Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

RCMP in Norway House shot unarmed man at kids' ball game: chief

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A young man is in a Winnipeg hospital after being shot by RCMP in Norway House Sunday afternoon during a children's baseball game.

RCMP confirmed in a release late Sunday an officer discharged a firearm and a Norway House resident suffered non-life threatening injuries.

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Both Ron Evans, chief of Norway House Cree Nation, and a witness to the shooting identified the wounded man as Evan Cromarty, who they said is about 20 years old and lives in Norway House.

Evans said Cromarty was wounded in the shoulder and taken by air ambulance to Winnipeg in stable condition.

The shooting took place around 4 p.m., said witness Annie Ettawacappow, 25, who lives next to the Rossville Diamond where the incident took place. She said she was alerted to trouble by the sound of sirens and walked out of her house to see what was going on.

"I was outside my house. I was watching and he was running toward the field... " Ettawacappow said.

She said she saw two RCMP cruisers arrive and two officers come out with their weapons drawn.

"A cop pointed a gun at him," she said. "I saw him put up his hands." The police told him to "freeze," she said.

Ettawacappow said Cromarty kept his hands up and was walking backwards. "He was walking away with his hands up."

She said only one of the officers fired his weapon and she heard four shots.

"He went down and fell to the ground. He started twitching," Ettawacappow said, adding she doesn't think Cromarty was armed, which Evans echoed. "He had no weapons on him," Evans said.

"I thought he was dead," she said.

Both Ettawacappow and Evans told the Free Press there were two games at the Rossville Diamond Sunday. One involved 12-year-olds and the other 17-year-olds, Evans said. The teams were from Norway House and Cross Lake, he added.

Ettawacappow said there was a lot of anger among the spectators after the shooting and the chief was called in to help calm the situation.

"Everyone was mad because the cops did this in front of kids," she said.

People threw items such as water bottles at a police cruiser as it left the scene, she said. "Things would have been worse if I had not been there," said Evans, who did not witness the event but was called to the diamond by a band councillor.

Evans, who said there were up to 300 spectators at the game, said some used smartphones to record the incident and RCMP attempted to gather the videos from them. "I told (the officers) it's not a good time to be doing this," said Evans.

There are about 8,000 people in the community on the north shore of Lake Winnipeg.

"Our people are in shock and angry," Evans said.

He said trauma councillors were in place to help traumatized witnesses.

Evans said he will meet in Winnipeg today with RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Brosseau to discuss the shooting.

greg.lockert@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2014 A5

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