Gillam, Man., residents to stay vigilant as northern Manitoba manhunt drags on
It’s been one week since two men who’ve become the focus of an intense manhunt in northern Manitoba were publicly identified as suspects in three B.C. homicides, and people who live in the town near their last confirmed whereabouts continue to take caution as the search for the pair drags on.
Gillam, Man., resident Lisa Wiwchar was away in Winnipeg last week when her community became the epicentre in the search for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky.
The B.C. residents have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of UBC professor Leonard Dyck, 64, and are suspects in the fatal shooting of a couple, Lucas Fowler, 23, and Chynna Deese, 24, two weeks ago.
The McLeod and Schmegelsky have eluded the authorities ever since they were named as suspects.
“It was a little bit scary,” said Wiwchar. “I wasn’t so worried about coming home to Gillam because there seemed to be a good police presence — it was driving the road. I don’t want to come across anybody on the road.”
She got back to Gillam Monday after a week-long vacation in Winnipeg. Wiwchar and her kids were supposed to return home Thursday but decided to wait it out due to the manhunt.
Now that she’s back, Wiwchar said it seems the community is more at ease.
“It seems pretty quiet now,” she said. “To me there seems to be a calmer feeling. I’m coming home and everything looks the same.”
RCMP said Tuesday the heavy police presence in York Landing, Man. has been withdrawn after officers were unable to substantiate a tip two individuals matching the description of the suspects were spotted near a landfill in the community.
Officers said police will remain in Gillam, but a checkstop on the only road into the community has been taken down. It also said 500 homes in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation were visited by officers during a door-to-door canvas.
Community members said they won’t let down their guard as the search drags on.
“I’m still going to heed caution for our community,” said Gillam Mayor Dwayne Foreman. “There’s still a police presence.”
Wiwchar echoed those sentiments.
“I think everyone will still be very vigilant and looking around until we know what’s happened with these guys because this is such a bizarre story,” she said. “I mean, why are you in Gillam.”