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Uncertainty in the air as Canada manhunt continues

The military has now pulled out of the search for Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod after the RCMP said that they no longer need their assistance.
Dylan Gibbons Montreal, QC

The military has now pulled out of the search for Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod after the RCMP said that they no longer need their assistance.

As of Wednesday morning, the RCMP has returned to the site of the suspects’ torched vehicle in the area surrounding Gillam after the York Landing tipoff proved fruitless.

“Ground and air searches will continue in the area around Gillam, Man., the last place Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were confirmed to have been seen. RCMP were also at the site of the Toyota RAV4 driven by the suspects, which was found near Sundance Creek, northeast of Gillam,” reports CBC.

Ground and air searches are continuing, but right now police are in the process of retracing their steps. With no more tips to go off, police efforts have dwindled to 40 members and the patience to wait for the suspects to move is becoming a factor.

“Once we’ve exhausted everything that we can do in this community,” RCMP Insp. Kevin Lewis explained to reporters, “then we would look at, when is this no longer viable to stay here?”

“I think we still have a good viable investigation on the ground here,” he continued, “and that we need to stay another little while.

“We’re going to have to be a little bit more strategic in a lot of our resource placement at this point to make sure that’s effective.”

In addition, the RCMP is also looking for their bodies in the event that they have died while hiding, noting the unlikeliness of surviving the harsh terrain surrounding Gillam.

In an interview with CTV News, Terry Grant, an experienced tracker and star of the television series Mantracker, expressed his surprise that the two unexperienced suspects have managed to remain hidden and voiced similar doubts over the likeliness of their survival.

He further admitted that he wasn’t sure what the RCMP should do if more evidence doesn’t emerge.

“It’s puzzling that there isn’t some kind of evidence, at this point, that they’re still there [in Gillam],” Grant said.

“If the dogs got close enough, got downwind,” he continued, “yes, special type of dogs could probably find them, but in really thick terrain like that, if there’s not much wind or they’re not within a half-mile of them, there’s probably no chance of them finding them,” he explained.

“I don’t know. Cross your fingers. Hope they come out,” he said when asked what options the RCMP should consider.

The area surrounding Gillam is filled with dense vegetation, swamps, and unforgiving terrain that makes tracking incredibly difficult; thus, making it the best place to avoid detection. However, this is also what makes surviving even harder, and Grant believes that he, an experienced outbacker, would have difficulties surviving for two weeks. He reasons that the suspects must be getting desperate and that the RCMP should remain vigilant.

“If they haven’t showed up somewhere else, like the whole world knows about these guys, so there’s nowhere they can go where they’re not going to be seen and recognized, so if they haven’t shown up somewhere at somebody’s place or a store, a grocery store or something, then they’ve got to still be there,” he said.

At the height of the search, officers deployed “armoured vehicles, drones, K9 units, ATVs, boats, and several aircraft, both military and civilian,” reports CTV News.

The recruitment of civilian aircraft shows the intensity of the ongoing search.

“The police pilots are trained in a different way, to take evasive actions if someone’s shooting at them and of course those pilots are very trained to observe things on the ground average pilot might not see because they’re not used to looking for people, especially armed people,” explains former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner Chris Lewis.

However, during a nation-wide manhunt, all bets are off and all eyes are needed.

According to a tweet from RCMP Manitoba, “Investigators have now received over 260 tips in the past 7 days. None have established that the suspects are outside of the Gillam area. However, #rcmpmb continues to remind the public that it is possible the suspects inadvertently received assistance & are no longer in the area.”

This is currently all the information available as day nine of the nation-wide manhunt continues.

A final reminder that, though they are likely desperate, it is assumed the two suspects are still armed and very dangerous. Report anything you see, but do not approach. They are currently charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck and are the primary suspects in the double homicide that ended the lives of Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese.

Dylan Gibbons
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