Mounties in Manitoba have pivoted to York Landing after two B.C. murder suspects were spotted scavenging at a landfill earlier today.
In an update on Sunday, Manitoba RCMP said they were responding to a tip that Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were spotted in the community. Despite reports on social media, neither are in custody, RCMP said in a tweet.
"RCMP officers remain in the community of York Landing & continue to investigate the reported sighting of the two suspects," it said. "All required resources are being used in this ongoing investigation."
Despite reports - there is no one in custody at this time. RCMP officers remain in the community of York Landing & continue to investigate the reported sighting of the two suspects. All required resources are being used in this ongoing investigation. Updates to follow.— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 29, 2019
York Landing is around 200 kilometres southwest of Gillam, Manitoba, where RCMP and the military had been focusing their search efforts over the last week. Police closed in on the community after security patrollers saw two men scavenging at the local dump.
Bear Patrol Inc. executive director James Favel said his company had been asked to send staff in to assist communities in the search area when patrollers saw two young men with no weapons or backpacks at the dump. All they had were the clothes they were wearing from what the team could see.
When the pair saw the security team, "they bolted," Favel said. The pair ran for trees and the patrol called police.
"All hell is breaking loose and the town is locked down," Favel said.
He said the team weren't worried as they initially thought the pair might be a work crew. It was the absence of a work truck that made them suspicious, he said.
"The adrenaline hit," he said.
There is a heavy police presence in the region. York Landing resident John Kalenchuk said helicopters and police in fatigues had been patrolling the area since about 6 p.m local time, just over an hour after the security team spotted the suspicious pair.
"They're flying around lots looking for those two characters," he said. "There's patrols on foot with dogs."
Kalenhcuk said the pair would be trapped if they hadn't managed to escape the dump area. Their choice to escape, he said, would be to take a winter road back out of the area or swim from island to island in the Hayes River which enters Hudson Bay not far to the northeast.
York Factory Cree Nation Chief Leroy Constant said RCMP are on scene with a helicopter, police dogs, and emergency response team members. However, heavy winds are limiting an aerial search.
He urged residents to stay inside with their doors locked as a 24-hour patrol of the community gets underway. “ERT are conducting ground searches with dogs and heavily armoured officers,” he said.
RCMP urged the public not to disclose the locations of its officers by posting photos to social media.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are charged with second-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. Dyck’s body was found at a highway pullout two kilometres from where the teens’ burned-out Dodge pickup truck was found on Highway 37 near Dease Lake on July 19.
The pair are also suspects in the killings of 23-year-old Lucas Fowler of Sydney, Australia, and 24-year-old Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina. Their bodies were discovered July 15 beside the Alaska Highway, 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs. No charges have yet been announced in that investigation.
RCMP, with the help of police dogs and the military, had spent the last week searching homes, cottages, cabins, abandoned buildings, rail lines, and waterways for the teens.
Their efforts were bolstered on Saturday when a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules airplane landed in Gillam along with military personnel.
More to come.