Two inmates who made a brazen daytime helicopter escape from a Canadian jail could face attempted murder charges for firing on officers after a car chase, Quebec police said today.
Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36, and Danny Provencal, 33, both inmates at the Saint-Jerome Jail in Quebec, were recaptured Sunday night. The men, along with two alleged accomplices, are scheduled to appear in court today, where they could face attempted murder counts, along with charges of hijacking an aircraft, evasion, possession of restricted weapons and breaking and entering, Provincial police spokesman Benoit Richard said.
Richard did not name the accomplices but said they are known to police.
The two men posed as tourists wanting to take a flight over Mount-Tremblant and then pulled a gun on the pilot, forcing him to land on one of the prison buildings, Yves Le Roux, president of the helicopter rental company, Passport-Hélico, told ABCNews.com.
"They had some rope and the two inmates grabbed onto the robes," he said. "They ordered our pilot to land in a nearby field so the two who were hanging could enter the helicopter," he said.
He said the pilot had pressed an emergency signal at one point during the flight and that when the suspects exited the aircraft, they pulled his t-shirt over his head so he would not be able to see where they were running.
Authorities called the jailbreak, which happened around 2 p.m. EST on Sunday, nothing short of "exceptional."
"I have never heard of an event such as this. Based on the info I have...I can tell you this has never happened," Richard said.
Richard said police followed the helicopter from the ground, and eventually were engaged in a car chase with Hudon-Barbeau and two accomplices before exchanging gunfire outside of a remote chalet 53 miles from the jail.
"When the suspects got out of their vehicl...they turned to officers and opened fire and then the police officers returned fire. No one was hit," Richard said.
Two of the suspects ran into an occupied chalet in Chertsey, Quebec, Richard said.
"These were people who were inside their home and the suspects broke into the chalet and of course they left at that point," he said.
The two men were arrested Sunday night without incident at the chalet. A third was arrested by a highway as police continued a dragnet for Provencal.
Authorities caught up with Provencal, who was barricaded in a building, late Sunday night. After setting up a perimeter and bringing in negotiators, they were able to bring him into custody after midnight, Richard said.
Le Roux said the pilot, who is in his mid-20's, was treated for shock but is recovering from his ordeal.
Hudon-Barbeau was arrested last year on firearms charges as part of a double murder investigation, the AP reported. One of the men charged in the murder is said to have ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
A man claiming to be Hudon-Barbeau called Montreal radio station 98.5 FM while the inmates were on the lam and said he was "ready to die" evading police.
"The way they're treating me in there, it's unreal," the man told the radio station in French, according to the AP. "They won't let me be. They put me back in prison for nothing."
Yves Galarneau, correctional manager at the Saint-Jerome jail, where there is a maximum security wing, said there would be an investigation into the escape.
"Because this is the first time such an event has occurred in a Quebec facility, first of all there will be an administrative investigation, an assessment will be carried out and we will be looking at what further steps need to be taken," he said.