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Alberta man faces 36 charges in RCMP shootout

EDMONTON - An Alberta man who was wounded in a shootout with RCMP faces 36 charges, including four counts of attempted murder.

Michael Leslie Johnson of Vegreville is in custody pending a Jan. 27 court hearing. RCMP say the 33-year-old continues to receive medical attention for injuries, which were earlier said to be gunshot wounds.

Five officers at a farm east of Edmonton near Tofield on Jan. 7 were investigating reports of a death threat and the theft of some firearms. They said they found a suspect hiding in a shed and a gunfight ensued.

Police have said one officer was grazed by a bullet and another Mountie was severely hurt when he was run over by a truck as the suspect attempted to flee.

RCMP Sgt. Josee Valiquette said the attempted murder charges were laid because that is what the evidence supports.

"Charges are laid ... where the evidence takes us," Valiquette said. "In this case the evidence ... was able to support four charges of attempted murder."

The severely injured officer has been released from hospital and is recovering at home. He suffered broken bones and internal injuries that required extensive surgery.

"I'm told he is in good spirits," Valiquette said.

The officer that was grazed was treated at the scene.

Valiquette would not talk about Johnson's condition.

Some of the other charges he faces include resisting arrest, dangerous operation of a vehicle, and break and enter.

"With the laying of charges there is relief among our members, their spouses and the law enforcement community in general," RCMP Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis said in a statement. "When a member of our community is injured in the line of duty, we all feel it."

Alberta's Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the shooting of the suspect, which is standard procedure in Alberta when anyone is shot by police.

The RCMP objected to any comparison with the March 2005 ambush of Mounties near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in which four officers were gunned down by a man hiding in a Quonset hut on a rural farm.

Gunman James Roszko killed constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston and Brock Myrol. Roszko was shot by another Mountie before killing himself.

McGinnis noted that the Mayerthorpe shootings involved officers on a stakeout and the Jan. 7 gunfight involved officers who were approaching a property as part of an ongoing investigation.

In February 2012, two Mounties were injured when they were shot while trying to deliver a warrant to a farmhouse near Killam, 160 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

Constables Sheldon Shah and Sid Gaudette underwent surgery and survived. Sawyer Robison, 28, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

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