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Mounties leaving York Landing, Man., as latest tip in search for fugitives comes up empty

Jul 29, 2019 03:49PM ● By Editor
Heavily armed police officers are searching the community of York Landing, Man., for B.C. homicide suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod. Photo: Angela Johnston/CBC

By Cameron MacLean of CBC News - July 29, 2019

Some of the RCMP officers in pursuit of two B.C. homicide suspects are leaving York Landing, Man., after their extensive search of the community appeared to turn up nothing. 

The emergency response team is returning to Gillam, and the major crime unit has left, according to York Factory First Nation Chief Leroy Constant.

More officers will leave the community by ferry on Tuesday, Constant said in a Facebook post shortly after 5 p.m. CT. The RCMP did not respond to questions about their deployment. 

The shift in strategy comes one day after officers received a "credible" tip that two men matching the descriptions of Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were spotted near the remote community's garbage dump.

Police poured into York Landing on Sunday night, but the RCMP said in a tweet on Monday afternoon it could not substantiate the tip following a "thorough and exhaustive search" of the community.

The RCMP said at the time it would remain in the York Landing and Gillam areas, but did not immediately confirm on Monday evening if officers were being deployed back to Gillam.

The setback comes on the seventh day of a nationwide hunt for arguably Canada's most wanted men.

A helicopter aids in the search around York Landing on Monday. (Gilbert Rowan/CBC)

Schmegelsky and McLeod, both from Port Alberni, B.C., are suspects in the killings of Australian tourist Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, and are charged with second-degree murder in the case of University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck.

Police concentrated their search — involving dozens of police officers, canine units, drones and military aircraft — around York Landing after arriving on Sunday night

Police officers search door to door overnight Sunday in York Landing. (Gilbert Rowan/CBC)

The community of about 500 people — which is 90 kilometres southwest of Gillam, and nearly 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg — is only accessible by air or by a two-hour boat ride. There is also a rail line about 25 kilometres south of York Landing, RCMP said.

A member of a community patrol group called in the tip of two men near the dump around 5 p.m. CT on Sunday.

The land surrounding the community is treacherous, filled with muskeg and with few paths, and Constant said it would be a miracle if the two men survived the trek from Gillam. 

Police had been conducting door-to-door searches in Gillam and nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation. Members of the Canadian military were also called in to help.
Constables with Tataskweyak Cree Nation, also known as Split Lake, stopped the suspects in their vehicle at a gas bar last Monday as they drove through the community, before the vehicle was found burned near Gillam, said band councillor Nathan Neckoway.

Split Lake is a dry community and the constables were checking for any alcohol, and didn't know who the men were at the time, he said.

"They did see maps and maps and camping gear within that vehicle that were driving," he said.

Images of murder suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky recorded in northern Saskatchewan a few days after three people were found dead in B.C. RCMP are investigating a tip they have been spotted in the remote community of York Landing, Manitoba. Photo: RCMP

After news broke that police were investigating the possibility the suspects were in York Landing, Fox Lake Chief Walter Spence released a statement expressing solidarity with the community. 

"The ongoing stress of the large police, military and media presence in the community is starting to take its toll, and our community members look forward to a return to normalcy," he said in the statement. 

To read the original article, related reporting and watch several videos, follow this link to the CBC website.

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