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This article was published 25/1/2018 (569 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Just four days after being released from prison, an Alberta man is back behind bars after being charged with brutally attacking a teenage boy inside a Portage Place bus shelter.
Winnipeg police arrested Joshua Zachary Snakeskin, 26, of Alberta, in a tense Portage Avenue takedown, charging him with Tuesday morning’s random attack on an unsuspecting 17-year-old from India, who has been in Canada only a month studying at the University of Manitoba.
Winnipeg police spokeswoman Const. Tammy Skrabek said Thursday Snakeskin was arrested in a stolen vehicle on Wednesday at about 9:50 p.m.
Snakeskin was just released from federal prison after serving 16 months for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and possessing a weapon.
Skrabek said the arrest was made after a "containment stop" where the driver was boxed inside the vehicle by multiple police cruisers.
Police confirmed Snakeskin was a federal offender who was only released on statutory release Jan. 19. Under statutory release, a past offender has to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence to serve the remainder in the community.
Snakeskin’s Facebook site shows a photo of him posted Saturday at 11:39 p.m., with the caption "Fresh out."
He had been serving a two-year, 86-day sentence after pleading guilty in provincial court in The Pas in September 2016 to charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possession of a weapon, possession of goods obtained by crime, possession of a firearm, having a prohibited or restricted weapon obtained by crime, carrying a concealed weapon, and two counts of theft under $5,000.
But Skrabek said a Canada-wide warrant was issued over the weekend when Snakeskin failed to show up at the address he was supposed to be staying at.
According to court records, the suspect received his first federal prison sentence in 2011 after being convicted for offences in Wetaskiwin and Rocky Mountain House, Alta. The convictions included break and enter, possession of stolen property under $5,000, drive over .08, and two counts of theft over $5,000.
Skrabek said when police arrested the suspect Wednesday "it was unknown if he had weapons." She said the arrest took place without incident and no one was injured.
The events leading to the arrest began hours earlier when the accused forced a 56-year-old man out of his vehicle outside Seven Oaks Hospital around 12:30 p.m., and then drove to Gimli. That vehicle was abandoned in the lakeside community and a pickup truck was stolen in the same location.
At approximately 9:13 p.m., it was reported the pickup truck stopped for fuel in the 5000 block of Portage Avenue and the driver fled without paying.
Police spotted the truck in the area of Portage and Maryland Street at about 9:30 p.m., and began to follow it until it took off. The Air1 police helicopter began following the truck from above, telling officers where the stolen vehicle was and where would be a good place to stop it.
In the area of Portage and Broadway, the vehicle became stuck in traffic. As officers approached the vehicle, the driver turned the truck toward one of the approaching officers, causing the officer to be forced to jump out of its way.
Skrabek said the police helicopter continued to follow the vehicle as it drove about 15 kilometres over 20 minutes to the North End and back downtown. The vehicle was involved in three minor collisions during the chase, but no injuries were reported.
Police finally boxed in the truck and arrested the driver in the 1900 block of Portage Avenue at 9:51 p.m.
On Wednesday morning, police released video-surveillance images of a man randomly attacking a 17-year-old exchange student from India in a Portage Place bus shelter on at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The teenage victim was sucker-punched before being kicked and beaten on the floor of the bus shelter until he couldn’t move.
"It was a vicious, completely unprovoked assault by a person unknown to the victim," Skrabek said during a news conference Wednesday.
"That person is more dangerous than a person dealing drugs. This person is who the public should be worried about."
The victim had been in Canada studying for only a month before the attack. He was taken to hospital for multiple facial injuries and released but will need further medical treatment, police said.
Skrabek said the surveillance video also showed the suspect going through the victim’s pockets and pulling out his laptop. She said police don’t know exactly what may have been taken from the teenager.
Snakeskin has been charged with several offences including aggravated assault, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, robbery, assaulting a police officer with a weapon, flight while pursued by a police officer, and theft of a motor vehicle.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 12:40 PM CST: Adds more detail, comment from police.
12:47 PM: Adds byline
2:04 PM: Typo fixed.
5:02 PM: New head, new info
8:05 PM: Adds suspect facebook photo