A remote Manitoba Indian chief believes the recent shooting could have been prevented if the RCMP had been more proactive in responding to the recent spike in community crime, including arresting a man allegedly involved in the shooting who was previously wanted by the Mounties.
On Sunday, two men and two teenage boys were airlifted to hospital after being injured in the Banibonibi Cree tribe, about 540 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg, the RCMP said.
After that, members of the community were isolated, and the leadership was not sure who was involved in the shooting and whether the safety of other people was threatened. Chief Richard Hart said he hoped the next day for an emergency response team to arrive and pick up all the suspects, but that didn’t happen.
“When you wait for them and they don’t come, it’s almost like a slap in the face. They don’t seem to care that there is a man with a gun who is ready to use it against people,” he said in an interview. interview on Thursday.
- Chief says Bunibonibee Cree Nation closed for safety on Sunday as four people shot themselves
The RCMP Troop at Oxford House is located in the Migrant Community and eight cavalrymen are stationed there, although not all of them are permanently stationed there, according to the RCMP. Hart said the emergency response team will provide more resources to arrest dangerous, potentially armed people.
Hart says that on the day of the shooting, unarmed police gangs were the first to respond to the shooting and took the victims, all males aged 28, 26, 17 and 16, to the medical center before the RCMP arrived. They were later airlifted to a hospital in Winnipeg.
Aboriginal violence spiked about two months ago, Hart said, coinciding with the return of a member of the community who was there to attend the funeral and stayed.
He added that gang activity increased over the summer and there were several home invasions, including one that ended with a small child losing an eye.
“We have been discussing this as a council and we have had several meetings with the RCMP over the past few weeks…Our main goal has been to take some action on this,” Hart said.
The community attempted to deal internally with the man believed to be connected to the violence, voting in early July to ban him from the First Nations for a year, but failed to catch him to get him on the first plane south.
At one point, an unarmed constable spotted him and chased him into the woods, but was unable to catch the man.
“They were alone, right? And they risked their lives trying to catch this guy,” he said.
ERT was supposed to arrest the man before the shooting
Five days before the Banibonibi shooting, the RCMP publicly stated that the same man was wanted for aggravated assault and wanted by the police.
Tara Seal, a media officer at the Manitoba RCMP, says an emergency response team was supposed to fly in to execute the warrant and arrest the man before the shooting, but the local unit said it would execute the warrant before the ERT could do so.
What exactly allowed the man to avoid arrest and allegedly take part in the shootout is not specified.
“Therefore, ERT was not present when this order was executed. This man, who is a high-risk criminal with a criminal record, is currently in custody. However, in the shooting incident, he was involved to some extent,” she said.
Hart says the man turned himself in to police on Tuesday, two days after the shooting.
Another person, a 22-year-old man, was arrested in connection with the shooting and charged with more than 15 crimes, police said Thursday.
“I think the general feeling is that [RCMP are] does not do enough to protect the safety of citizens.– Chief Richard Hart
Chief wonders if the shooting would have happened if the police had made arrests for previous crimes earlier.
“This summer, the gang activity so far has just been a series of gang attacks and retaliation… Have they really made a conscious effort to go after him? [the man RCMP had a warrant for]”I’m pretty sure there would have been no shooting,” he said.
Hart says people in the community have had a difficult summer, but the weekend shooting has wreaked havoc and left community members defenseless.
No ERT after shooting
Feelings escalated after the shooting when Hart said that the RCMP filed paperwork to call ERT again, but a few days later one suspect turned himself in and the RCMP did not send a team to search for another person allegedly involved in the shooting, who was later arrested.
“I think the general feeling is that [RCMP are] does not do enough to protect the safety of citizens. There seems to be a sense that they’re just not following a lot of the activities that have taken place up to this point,” Hart said.
Seale says local RCMP officers felt they had the necessary resources to investigate and focus on public safety, and there were certain criteria that needed to be met in order to deploy a team.
“We fully understand that community members are under pressure. We can certainly appreciate that this incident has caused a lot of concern and even fear among members of the community,” she said.
“We are very focused on making sure everyone feels safe.”