A military aircraft has arrived in northern Manitoba to assist RCMP in the hunt for two young homicide suspects.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted Friday night that the military have been called in to give the Mounties air support in combing the unforgiving terrain around Gillam, Man.
In a statement Saturday, the military said a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg will assist with an aerial search.
A RCMP officer will be on board the aircraft to direct the search, according to the statement.
Police have said that Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and his 19-year-old friend Kam McLeod, may have changed their appearance to try to evade the intense manhunt that includes officers from several jurisdictions searching on foot, with dogs and using drones.
The two Port Alberni, B.C., teens are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a botany professor at the University of British Columbia. They are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese. All three homicides happened in northern B.C.
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 coordinating 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 cooperate 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 Kent said in the statement.
A burned-out RAV4 that Schmegelsky and McLeod were travelling in was found near Gillam this week. Police have said there have been no reports of stolen vehicles since then.
Mounties are asking anyone who may have unwittingly helped the suspects in their travels to come forward. RCMP Cpl. Julie 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 at an RCMP update in Winnipeg on Friday.
Courchaine urged the public across the country to keep a careful watch out for the pair.
She also stressed there have been no confirmed sightings since Monday in the Gillam area — an isolated region of bog and bush with one access road — so the search for the two was still focused there.
Courchaine said police were planning to go door-to-door in Gillam and on the Fox Lake First Nation over the next three days looking for leads.