Heavily armed police officers are combing through the bush and swamps surrounding the remote Indigenous community of York Landing in northern Manitoba, following a reported sighting of two teenage murder suspects who have been on the run for nearly two weeks.
Officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, are responding to a tip that two men fitting the descriptions of Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19 were spotted Sunday afternoon around 5 p.m. local time in the small Cree community, about 90 kilometres southwest of Gillam, Manitoba, which was the focus of a massive manhunt for the last week.
“Based on the information received, the RCMP immediately deployed multiple resources to the community, including the Emergency Response Team, police dog services, containment team members, major crime services and air services assets,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine told reporters Monday.
“Officers searched the York Landing area throughout the night and continue their efforts today.”
The Royal Canadian Air Force is also assisting today with the search, she added.
“Officers on the ground have not made contact with the individuals, as such, the RCMP is not yet in a position to confirm that these are the wanted suspects,” Courchaine said.
It is critical that residents of York Landing remain vigilant and stay indoors as much as possible with their doors locked, and to report anything suspicious by calling their local police immediately, RCMP officials tweeted Monday.
Schmegelsky and McLeod have been charged with second degree murder of Leonard Dyck, 64, and are suspected of gunning down two tourists, Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, in Northern British Columbia.
The couple’s bodies were discovered on July 15 about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs, a popular tourist destination in the far north of the province.
Dyck’s body was found July 19 at a highway pullout about two kilometres from a burned-out camper truck, discovered the same day, near the community of Dease Lake, B.C.
Police say the pair then stole a car and drove nearly 3,000 kilometres east before ditching their getaway car in the bush near Gillam.
It’s unclear how the two suspects got from Gillam to York Landing.
The manhunt switched to York Landing Sunday afternoon after a member of Bear Clan patrol group, an Indigenous neighbourhood protection group, spotting what he believed to be the men near the landfill and water-treatment plant in York Landing.
Travis Bighetty told CBC News he and his partner spotted two “tall, slender individuals” moving very quickly — possibly spooked by the sound of their truck.
“They fit the description of what was given in the RCMP report,” Bighetty said. “It didn’t click right away, it took a few moments.”
Police have asked the public not to disclose on social media where their officers were located.
With files from CBC News