The Canadian military has landed in Gillam, Man., with an aircraft to help join the search for two young homicide suspects in Northern Manitoba.
The Department of National Defence confirmed in a written statement that a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg will assist with an aerial search.
The statement said an RCMP officer will be on board the aircraft to direct the search and said this remains an RCMP-led effort, with the Royal Canadian Air Force in a support role. The RCMP will determine the area for the air search.
RCMP officers are also going door-to-door to speak with residents in Gillam and on the Fox Lake Cree Nation over the weekend looking for leads to help with the investigation.
Police started scouring the woods around Gillam, Man., and Fox Lake Cree Nation for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, after a burnt-out vehicle driven by the pair was found near Fox Lake Monday.
The Gillam area is an isolated region of bog and bush with one access road.
Police have said Schmegelsky and McLeod may have changed their appearance to try to evade the intense search that includes officers from several jurisdictions searching on foot, with dogs and using drones.
In the ongoing search for the suspects, RCMP officers have started to canvass every home in Gillam & Fox Lake Cree Nation. In addition to the canvass, they are also thoroughly searching every abandoned home in the area – over 100 cleared so far. #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/SdQhyqxJrn
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 27, 2019
The Port Alberni, B.C., men are suspects in the shooting deaths of a tourist couple in northern B.C. last week, and have been charged with second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck, a botany professor at the University of British Columbia..
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said Saturday that it has requested help from the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group.
A statement from the assembly said the group is co-ordinating teams to fly to First Nations communities including Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, and War Lake First Nation.
“The patrol groups will provide a sense of security to our First Nations communities that are now facing a great deal of uncertainty. As we roll out this strategy, we ask that all community members continue to co-operate with the RCMP. If anyone spots these two young men, please contact the RCMP right away — do not put yourself at risk. Keep your doors locked and your kids close,” Acting Grand Chief Sheldon Kent said in the statement.
This is the first time in its history that the Bear Clan Patrol has travelled to remote First Nations to act as “ambassadors” in a hunt for fugitives. The patrol group, which was created to keep the peace and assist residents in inner-city communities in Winnipeg, has expanded its reach to the northern portion of the province to back up Manitoba Mounties as they begin canvassing the homes of Gillam residents.
“We’re not quite sure what it’s going to be like,” said James Favel, executive director of Bear Clan Patrol. “We’re going to go up there, and we’re going to provide ambassador services … be present in the community,” Favel said.
“It’s just about being there for the communities. That’s our main focus.”
On Friday, the RCMP said someone may have inadvertently helped the men leave the area, but stressed there have been no confirmed sightings of the two since they were seen in the Gillam area on Monday. Police have said there have been no reports of local stolen vehicles since then.
The public across the country has been urged to keep a careful watch out for the pair.