RCMP exchange gunfire on northern reserve

RCMP officers exchanged gunfire with a group of people on the Red Earth First Nation in an incident that led to a long standoff involving dozens of officers and the arrest of four men.

On Tuesday at around 1: 20 a.m., two members of the Carrot River RCMP detachment were responding to a complaint of shots being fired on the First Nation when the officers encountered a small group of people walking along a street.

As the officers approached the group in a marked vehicle, shots were fired toward the vehicle, shattering the cruiser’s front windshield, RCMP said.

The officers tactically repositioned themselves and called for assistance from neighbouring detachments, while returning gunfire at the suspects. It’s still unclear how many shots were fired by RCMP, said spokesperson Cpl. Rob King.

“Given a critical incident like that, it’s not unusual for members to not remember how many shots were fired,” King said. “You’re not focused on that, you’re focused on the immediate threat.”

After the shootings, officers eventually made their way to a residence on the First Nation – about 290 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon – in the early morning, beginning a standoff that lasted until shortly after noon.

An RCMP emergency response team from Regina was assisted by members of the Red East First Nation – including the vice chief, councillors and an elder, who were all present during negotiations with the suspects. A peaceful resolution was reached and the four men surrendered into police custody without further incident. Between 20 to 30 officers from outside the Carrot River detachment were at Red Earth to assist local RCMP, King said.

The four male suspects arrested are 18 to 19 years of age, but no charges have been laid, RCMP said. Officers also seized a shotgun from the residence. The investigation continues and RCMP are determining if an outside agency will be used to investigate the discharge of an officer’s firearm.

This is the second violent incident in less than one week that involved attacks on RCMP officers in a northern community. Three men from La Loche are facing numerous charges – including arson, assaulting a peace officer and participating in a riot – in connection with a mob scene that threatened officers and emergency workers in the community.

The mob, which RCMP estimates included 50 to 70 people, burned an RCMP truck and threw bottles before following officers to a hospital where those inside barricaded themselves inside to prevent the angry mob from entering.

King said it would be inappropriate to quickly compare the incidents in La Loche and Red Earth.

“It’d be a stretch to draw connections between the two incidents,” he said.

But RCMP are working on a more comprehensive media response to the two incidents, which could be released later this week. King declined to provided details about the response.
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