BEAUSEJOUR — The change of scenery on this quiet tree-lined street was as stark as the revelation that the man living in the modest white bungalow has ties to a neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.
Where hours earlier under darkness, Canadian Army Reserves Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews was walking out with his hands in the air as RCMP surrounded the home as part of a raid that seized firearms, here he was standing in the bright sunshine, confrontational and then considerate.
"Not a centimetre forward. I did not say you could come on my property," Mathews told a Free Press reporter, before disappearing into his backyard on the property that had a red pickup truck in the driveway.
Moments later, the 26-year-old Mathews re-emerged from his yard and approached the reporter — now in a marked Free Press car — still with no comment, but now with a fistful of carrots in one hand and a small, red flower in the other.
"Here you go," he said, handing the carrots over. "And this is a flower, believe it or not."
Neighbours told the Free Press Mathews was taken into custody after RCMP surrounded his house Monday at about 10 p.m.
In a written statement, Manitoba RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne said the Mounties executed a public safety warrant and seized several weapons at a residence in Beausejour, but would not specify whether it was Mathews' house or whether anyone was taken into custody.
Cyrenne said there was no formal arrest made and no one is currently in custody, and that the RCMP’s investigation is ongoing.
On Tuesday morning, people living on the tranquil street near the outskirts of the small town painted a chaotic picture of the previous night’s events.
Sarah Lockhart, who lives three houses down the street from the raided house, said she had no idea what was happening when sirens started blaring outside her window Monday night while she watched a movie alongside her four-month-old daughter, Peyton.
Suddenly, the street was lined with more than a dozen police vehicles, she said.
"My house was surrounded," said the 25-year-old. "I was, like, 'What is going on?'"
Lockhart said she saw a man handcuffed and taken into custody at the end of the street, and said RCMP stayed at the scene until close to 1 a.m. Tuesday. She said she didn't know much about the handcuffed man, adding the incident will likely affect the neighbourhood's sense of safety.
"I think people are shaken up," she said. "People will definitely be getting to know their neighbours after this."
In the small, tight-knit community, people are unsettled after learning there’s been a stranger in their midst for years, said longtime Beausejour resident Lisa Dyck.
"He’s living right amongst us," the 51-year-old mother of two said. "It’s terrifying, especially because no one really knows him…. This kind of shakes everybody to their core."
Meanwhile, people who had spoken to Mathews described him as a quiet neighbour.
"He sticks to himself," said 75-year-old Alma Loeb, who lives across the street from Mathews with her husband, Ron Loeb, 74.
Ron said they had spoken to Mathews a few times since he first moved in about two years ago, and weren’t aware of his involvement with the far-right hate movement.
"It is what it is," said Ron. "There’s probably a lot of people out there leading two different lives."