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Helicopter hijacked in prison escape

March 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

SAINT-JEROME, Quebec, March 18 (UPI) -- Attempted murder charges could be filed against the suspects in a daring Quebec jailbreak involving a hijacked helicopter, police said Monday.

Four people, including two inmates, were arrested, Quebec provincial police said. Police say the suspects exchanged gunfire with police Sunday during their getaway attempt, CTV News reported.

Sgt. Benoit Richard of the Surete du Quebec said the four suspects could face charges of breaking and entering, weapons possession, evading arrest and attempted murder.

One of the inmates who escaped from the correctional facility in Saint-Jerome has been identified as Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, who is believed to have ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, CTV reported.

Witnesses say two men were lifted from the prison courtyard by grabbing a line dangling from a hovering aircraft.

Police followed the helicopter in police cruisers and eventually located three of the suspects in a vehicle. The suspects allegedly fired at police as they ran from the car to a chalet in Chertsey, Quebec. No one was injured, police said.

A fourth suspect, Danny Provencal, 33, was found several hours later hiding in shack. The names of the other two suspects have not yet been released.

CTV said Hudon-Barbeau allegedly called a Montreal radio station just hours after the jailbreak to say he had been shot in the leg. Police, however, said Hudon-Barbeau suffered a non-firearm related injury. He was under guard at a hospital.

The pilot whose helicopter was hijacked allegedly flew with a gun to his head, his boss said.

Yves Le Roux, president of the helicopter rental company, Passport-Helico, said the pilot thought he was taking two tourists on a flight around the Mont-Tremblant ski resort when one of the hijackers put a gun to his head and ordered him to fly to the Saint-Jerome detention center, the Globe and Mail reported.

Le Roux said the pilot tried to radio an emergency signal but the hijackers became suspicious and ripped off the pilot's headset.

The jail in Saint-Jerome has been the subject of complaints about overcrowding and reduced weekend staffing, officials said. Last month, about a dozen prisoners demonstrated to protest conditions, CTV said.

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