December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
A weekend shooting is the second in three months on the Long Plain First Nation near Portage la Prairie, and both are thought to be drug-related, said a family member of the latest victim.
Barry Myran remains at Health Sciences Centre in critical condition after being shot in the head at close range in the bizarre attack early Saturday morning.
RCMP issued a statement Saturday about the incident but have yet to issue any updates. They would not confirm reports Sunday that one person has been arrested in connection with the attack.
Chief David Meeches confirmed RCMP have one person in custody and they are still looking for others.
"There has been an arrest and they're following up on leads for other persons of interest," Meeches said. The chief said RCMP have not made him aware of a link to drugs or an earlier shooting in November. Word of the arrest, however, spread fast on the First Nation, easing the initial shock and apprehension about an armed gunman wandering the community, he said.
"We have 2,100 people, and it's a small community... Everybody is aware of what happened and who's involved. I'm encouraging everyone to remain calm," the chief said.
Portage la Prairie RCMP were called to a home about 1:30 a.m. Saturday on the First Nation, which is located 27 kilometres southwest of Portage.
Doctors are keeping the victim under heavy sedation and the biggest concern for family is swelling on the brain, relative Peter YellowQuill said Sunday. YellowQuill said he and other members of the family believe drugs are behind shootings such as this one and one linked to a police shooting in November of a 28-year-old man.
"In the last 15 years, crack and crystal meth have flooded into the community and this thing has been festering. It's difficult to deal with. We're trying to talk to the young people not to get into the gangs but it's hard-core now," he said.
RCMP have not said how the November shooting occurred, only that RCMP shot a man armed with a baseball bat after a house party spiralled out of control.
The Regina Police Service is the external police agency investigating that shooting.
This one occurred at the home of the victim's father, who was also targeted but escaped unharmed, YellowQuill said.
Four young men, including a couple who appeared to be in their teens, knocked on the older man's door after 1 a.m. Saturday, asking to come in out of the cold.
Once they were inside, one of the four pulled a gun and shot the victim in the head, YellowQuill said. The victim lives in Winnipeg but was visiting his father at the time.
"It's a very serious, serious injury, a shot to the head. One of them had what appeared to be a sawed-off .22," YellowQuill said.
YellowQuill's wife, a Christian pastor in the community, was called immediately to the house.
When Sheila YellowQuill arrived, she found her cousin on the floor bleeding heavily from the head, but responsive. The older man, her uncle, told family the gunman shot his son then pointed the rifle at him.
The gunman pulled the trigger, but it jammed. Her uncle responded by turning off the lights and plunging the front room in darkness. The four invaders then fled.
The older man recognized some of the four as part of a crew of young men who targeted his brother in a harassment campaign last summer that nearly resulted in his home being torched by fire, Peter YellowQuill said.
"These are guys who are into crack and ecstasy and there appears to have been a slowdown in the flow of crack and it's affecting a lot of these guys. They're crashing. We think it's all part of the drug situation," he said.
In early January, a 24-year-old man was also killed on the First Nation. Cody Alexander Schmidt, 21, of Long Plain, was charged with second-degree murder.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2013 A3