GILLAM, Man. — Police are following up on a tip that two B.C. homicide suspects were seen southwest of Gillam, the northern Manitoba community that has been the focus of their search since last week.RCMP posted an update on Twitter late Sunday afternoon saying they are sending resources to York Landing, about 90 kilometres from Gillam, to investigate a tip that the two suspects may be in or near the community.The tweet says a heavy police presence can be expected in the area, and that police will continue to update the public as information becomes available.Multiple RCMP resources are being sent to York Landing, MB, to investigate a tip that the two suspects are possibly in, or near, the community. A heavy police presence can be expected in the area. We will continue to update you as information becomes available.— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 28, 2019James Favel of the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, said it was some of his group’s volunteers who reported the sighting to police after they saw two suspicious men while patrolling York Landing on Sunday afternoon.“These two gentleman matched the description that they were looking for so they immediately called RCMP and alerted them to the presence, and now there is all kinds of things happening over there,” Favel, who is the group’s executive director, told the Canadian Press in an interview from Winnipeg.“These two guys definitely stood out.”Favel said the pair bolted as soon as they were spotted.Officials have yet to confirm whether the duo was Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and 19-year-old Kam McLeod of Port Alberni, B.C., who are charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia professor Leonard Dyck.They are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.A burned-out Toyota RAV4 the teens were travelling in was found near Gillam last week.Leroy Constant, chief of the York Factory First Nation, posted on Facebook that Mounties were on their way to York Landing.“Everyone please remain indoors with your doors locked. And all vehicles should be parked,” Constant wrote, asking that people also share the message with community members who weren’t on social media.Police, helped by tracking dogs and drones, have been going door to door, checking every residence and abandoned building in and around Gillam as townsfolk maintain their own stressful vigil for the fugitives.The aerial search effort got a boost Saturday with the arrival of a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft equipped with high tech thermal detection gear.On Twitter, Mounties posted pictures of armed officers checking doors, shining flashlights into garages and cautiously preparing to enter a shed. One picture from the air about 200 kilometres north of Gillam showed a polar bear roaming a grassy shoreline.No new sightings of suspects. Officers are searching cottages, cabins, waterways, & along the rail line for any signs of the suspects. This search of remote areas is being conducted both on foot & in the air. The terrain is immense & varied w/lakes, ponds, muskeg etc. #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/9xp5eg8GnI— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 28, 2019It’s all taking a toll on Gillam and several surrounding Indigenous communities, according to a member of the Bear Clan Patrol.“Up here, all the towns and communities, they look like ghost towns. Like, everyone’s inside. There’s a high level of stress, anxiety and fearfulness because they’re being kept in their houses,” said Wade Taylor, a Bear Clan Patrol volunteer from Winnipeg, who noted the volunteers are not part of the search effort.“Quite a few people have even left the area altogether, kind of waiting for this to blow over.”Taylor said he was on patrol in Winnipeg on Friday night when he and seven other volunteers responded to a request to fly to Gillam. He said they’ve spent their time meeting and reassuring residents either at their doorsteps, on the streets or at public events that were organized by the communities to give people a chance to safely go outside.He said they had to spend the night in an empty house, but that area residents brought them sheets and pillows.
Top row: Lucas Fowler, 23, of Australia and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, were found dead on July 15. Bottom row: Port Alberni, B.C., teens Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, are missing.
Taylor said almost everyone he talked to shared their thoughts about the search. No one thought the fugitives were in their own community — they believed they were more likely to be in one of the communities nearby, Taylor said.“Some of the people, you can tell by their voice that they’re almost at the point of breaking down crying,” Taylor said. “You could say it’s traumatic.”Related
Anthonie Koop, a spokesman for Manitoba Hydro, said the utility has been helping police by supplying them with information about their facilities in the region in case the suspects might be using them to hide out.One of those facilities is the 600-room Keewatinohk Converter Station Camp, near Gillam, which was used in the construction of the Bipole 3 transmission line but is now empty.RCMP said Saturday that they were searching the facility.