August 13, 2020

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Mounties leave York Landing after search for fugitives turns up nothing: Chief

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/7/2019 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nearly 24 hours after being deployed to York Landing, RCMP officers in pursuit of two B.C. homicide suspects are leaving the northern Manitoba community.

According to a Facebook post Monday afternoon by York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant, the RCMP emergency response team was returning to Gillam (90 kilometres to the northeast) and the major crime unit had already left.

Police continue the search in Gillam. (Twitter / RCMP)</p>

Police continue the search in Gillam. (Twitter / RCMP)

Constant added some officers were staying overnight, but will be leaving via ferry Tuesday morning.

"Emergency response team have conducted an extensive ground search in York Landing (and) surrounding areas and have not located the suspects, with assistance from canine units, helicopters, Hercules aircraft, drones (and) RCMP boat patrol," Constant posted.

The move comes one day after RCMP received a tip from the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, saying two men matching the descriptions of Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were seen rummaging through the York Landing garbage dump.

The suspects in three B.C. homicides were believed to be in the Gillam area, some 750 km northeast of Winnipeg.

The York Landing area is full of thick bush, 90 km over land, 200 km by car southwest from Gillam. Typically, one would take the ferry that runs between Split Lake and York Landing, but community elder Amelia Saunders said there are check stops on the ferries.

"I was hoping that this would have been resolved by the time morning broke, but that has not happened," Bear Clan executive director James Favel said Monday from Winnipeg, adding there's no time estimate regarding when the search may end.

The Manitoba manhunt began July 23, but Favel believes the end may be near.

"That terrain up there is very unforgiving," he said. "I don't know that they can make very much ground unless they hit the water.

"The area is about 200 square kilometres that is known as York Landing. They’re in the middle of the boreal forest. It's a huge huge area to cover and those guys are obviously not bound by any borders. So it's a very large area and, again, is very unforgiving terrain and there’s wolves, and bears and flies that are looking to make a meal of someone."

Meanwhile, until the manhunt is over, the small community of 500 is on lockdown and its citizens are concerned.

"I know now how people felt in Gillam and Fox Lake (Cree Nation)," said Saunders, who celebrated her grandson's birthday by eating cake with him inside her home. "I just pray that everything will be alright in our community and hope that they will catch them soon."

Saunders said since the sighting, Constant has been communicating information through the band's radio channel, "but the leadership are here in our community, trying to protect us as well."

— with files from Nadya Pankiw

nicholas.frew@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @n_frew

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