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This article was published 27/7/2019 (544 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mounties who are searching for two fugitives accused of murder said Sunday they had completed their canvass of the Fox Lake Cree Nation and would focus efforts on checking each home in nearby Gillam.
More than 250 homes were canvassed by investigators in the intense search for Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19. The two Port Alberni, B.C., teens are charged with second-degree murder in the July 19 death of Leonard Dyck, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, in northern B.C. They are also suspects in the shooting deaths of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, a young couple who was vacationing in northern B.C.
There have been no new sightings of the men since they were spotted near Gillam on July 22, RCMP said in a release Sunday.
RCMP say they have received more than 200 tips about two alleged killers in the past five days and none of them has established that the fugitives have left the Gillam area.
RCMP issued the update after Twitter buzzed with speculation the men had been arrested on the Perimeter Highway on the edge of south Winnipeg. Video of the arrest of two men was posted to Twitter.
"Canadians with tips about the suspects should immediately contact their local police. Multiple tips of sightings have been posted to social media and not directly reported to police. If the tips are valid, it could create a substantial delay in the response by police," the Mounties said in a Twitter post.
The Mounties reminded the public that it's possible the suspects inadvertently received assistance and are no longer in the area or have changed their appearance to avoid being detected.
In the isolated swamp and forest near Gillam on Sunday, investigators continued searching cottages, waterways and along the railway for any sign of the men The Via Rail train from Churchill, which was headed to Winnipeg, was searched.
The Canadian military is on the ground and in the air helping RCMP in the manhunt for the two B.C. men.
On Saturday, the Canadian Armed Forces deployed an aircraft to Gillam, to support an air search in the hunt for Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, who are suspects in three northern B.C. homicides.
The two Port Alberni, B.C. teens are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a botany lecturer at the University of British Columbia. They are also suspects in the shooting deaths of tourist couple Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese.
The last confirmed sighting of the suspects was on Monday in the Gillam area, RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Julie Courchaine said at a press conference on Friday.
RCMP said in a news release Saturday there have been no new sightings of the suspects and no new information to suggest they may have fled the area near Gillam, an isolated region of bog and bush with one access road.
The release said officers began canvassing the Gillam area as well as Fox Lake Cree Nation and a Manitoba Hydro work camp Saturday morning and would continue to do so throughout the weekend.
"In addition to the canvass, more than 100 empty homes have been thoroughly searched in the Town of Gillam. Officers are also searching large abandoned buildings such as the Keewatinohk Converter Station Camp, near Gillam, which has over 600 rooms," the news release stated.
In an email to the Free Press on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Department of National Defence said the military dispatched a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg.
The spokeswoman said an RCMP officer will be on board the plane to direct the search, since the Mounties are still leading the search effort.
"The Canadian Armed Forces are always prepared to assist other governmental organizations and the search effort around Gillam, Manitoba is another example of this co-operation," the spokeswoman said.
The crew for this type of plane is comprised of two pilots (an aircraft commander and a co-pilot), an air combat systems officer, a flight engineer, a loadmaster and two search-and-rescue technicians, the spokeswoman said.
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.
Mounties are also asking anyone who may have unwittingly helped the suspects in their travels to come forward. Courchaine said police aren’t confirming that’s what happened, but investigators aren’t ruling out any possibilities.
"It is possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were providing assistance to, and may now be hesitant to come forward," she said Friday.
Ralph Goodale, federal public safety and emergency preparedness minister, issued a statement on Saturday following RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki’s request for assistance from the military in the Mounties’ efforts to find the suspects.
"The recent murders in northern British Columbia have shocked and saddened us all. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of these terrible crimes," said Goodale.
"I would like to thank the RCMP members and law enforcement partners who are working selflessly and tirelessly to keep Canadians safe. On behalf of all Canadians I also want to thank all of the vigilant residents who continue to provide the RCMP with useful information in this investigation."
Goodale reminded Canadians to remain vigilant until the suspects are found, and to call 911 immediately should they see anything.
— with files from The Canadian Press