Mayor concerned for community's well-being as manhunt shifts back to Gillam
The mayor of a quiet northern Manitoba town, which has once again become the focus of a manhunt for two homicide suspects, is concerned about the well-being of people in his community as the search drags on.
Gillam, Man., Mayor Dwayne Forman said he’s planning to meet with town councillors to come up with a plan to help residents cope with the ongoing uncertainty.
“We gotta make sure that they’re taken care of, that this community can heal and go back to normal life,” said Forman. “It’s really an unknown as to the adverse effects of this to our community right now. I think that’s where we’re going to need a professional to come in and kind of guide us through that and let us know what steps to follow.”
York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant expressed similar concerns earlier this week when the manhunt moved to the community of York Landing, Man., as officers investigated a tip that individuals matching the description of the suspects were seen in the area.
“Uncertainty is always the first thought,” said Constant. “We gotta do what we gotta do to protect our members, ensure everyone is safe and take necessary action.”
RCMP said after a thorough and exhaustive search of York Landing the tip could not be substantiated.
The RCMP said officers are continuing to search high probability areas in and around the Gillam area for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, wanted in connection with three homicides in northern British Columbia.
A burned-out vehicle police believe the suspects were driving was found near Gillam July 22 but there’s been no confirmed sightings since that time.
Former RCMP officer Sherry Benson-Podolchuk said searchers are likely also facing physical and mental fatigue from dealing with an ongoing situation which involves suspects who are considered armed and dangerous.
“It’s the physical demand as well as the emotional demand,” said Benson-Podolchuk. “It eventually wears people down and it’s exhausting.”
Benson-Podolchuk said each individual officer has their own coping strategy, whether that’s through counselling or speaking to a loved one.
“You don’t mentally debrief until this is all over. They will keep doing what they have to do because they’re professionals.”
RCMP will be making a statement at 1 p.m. on the “reduction of search efforts in the Gillam area” in the ongoing manhunt for the two B.C. homicide suspects.