B.C. murder suspects manhunt shifts focus; tensions high in northern Manitoba

News source from CTV News

Two northern Manitoba communities remain on edge Monday as the massive manhunt for B.C. murder suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod continues.

Charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia professor Leonard Dyck and wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, the suspects have been the subject of the manhunt for nearly a week.

On Sunday, heavily armed RCMP officers descended on the rural town of York Landing, Man. to investigate a tip that Schmegelsky, 18, and McLeod, 19, were spotted in the area.

“All efforts are being made in York Landing to apprehend two individuals matching the description of the suspects,” read an update posted to the RCMP’s Twitter account late Sunday.

“We remind residents to stay inside and check all doors and windows to ensure they are closed and locked.”

James Favel, executive director of the Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group Bear Clan Patrol, told CTV News Channel it was his group’s volunteers who reported the possible suspects sighting to the police. He said the two men, who matched the description of the teens, “stood out.”

“They were found rummaging through the dump for food, we think. People don’t go to the dump in these communities without a vehicle to seek refuge in should a bear pop up,” Favel said. “We’re talking about an isolated indigenouscommunity, people have to ferry in or fly in, and these two guys were definitely not from around there.”

The patrol group was invited by the grand chief to support York Landing and the surrounding communities after the search for Schmegelsky and McLeod shifted to Gillam. Favel said the investigation has taken a toll on the small communities.

“Everybody is kind of twisted up about this. There is a lot of nervousness, everybody’s in high alert, the town’s in lock down,” he said. “We’re really hoping for a peaceful resolution to this as quickly as possible so people can get back to their normal lives.”

Both local officials and RCMP were quick to dispel rumours that the suspects had been apprehended.

“The (2) suspects are still at large and have NOT been caught,” Leroy Constant, chief of the York Factory First Nation, said Sunday evening in a statement posted to Facebook. “Currently, Heavy winds are limiting helicopter and drones. We are urging everyone to remain indoors with windows and doors locked. Patrols of the community will be done on a 24 hour basis.”

The RCMP also made a plea for the public not to share the location of officers on social media.

map of suspect sightings

Gillam remains on edge

Meanwhile, search efforts continued in Gillam, Man. where RCMP officers and Canadian military are going door-to-door speaking to locals, and searching abandoned buildings and trains for the suspects.

The small community of 1,200 people has been at the centre of the manhunt for nearly a week, placing heavy anxiety on an otherwise quiet area.

“You can tell when you talk to a lot of people that it’s very emotional. Some of them you can tell in their voice that it bothers them quite a bit,” Wade Taylor, a member of the Bear Clan Patrol group told CTV Winnipeg.

One resident told CTV Winnipeg reporter Josh Crabb that they flew to Winnipeg from Gillam over the weekend to escape the police activity.

But some say the ongoing police presence has brought a measure of reassurance.

“We’ve been locking our windows quite a bit… checking the yard and stuff like that,” Gillam resident Morris Beardy told CTV Winnipeg. “We feel a little bit more safe here with all the cops around.”

On Sunday, police said they had received more than 200 tips regarding the suspects, none of which established that the suspects had left the Gillam area.

Police reminded the public that anyone with tips about the teen’s whereabouts should contact their local police departments, noting that multiple tips of sightings had been posted to social media and not reported to police.

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