YORK LANDING, Mb. (NEWS 1130) – Despite a credible tip coming in on Sunday, Mounties in Manitoba say they haven’t been able to substantiate reports that two people spotted in York Landing were indeed the Vancouver Island men wanted in B.C.
Manitoba RCMP Cst. Julie Courchaine said on Monday that Mounties were alerted to a possible sighting of two men fitting the description of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod at around 5:00 p.m. local time.
“Based on the information received, the RCMP immediately deployed multiple resources to the community, including the Emergency Response Team, Police Dog Services, Containment Team members, Major Crime Services and Air Services assets,” she said.
Kam McLeod, left, and Bryer Schmegelsky are seen here in handout images from the RCMP. (Source: RCMP)
Search teams combed the area overnight, and will continue to have a presence in the area.
“York Landing is approximately 90 kilometres southwest of Gillam, and is only accessible by air or via a two-hour ferry crossing in the summer,” Courchaine explained. “There is also a rail line that runs approximately 25 kilometres south of the community.”
Mounties have not been able to make contact with the two people reportedly spotted in York Landing, and on Monday afternoon said in a tweet that it has not been able to substantiate the tip.
After a thorough & exhaustive search, #rcmpmb has not been able to substantiate the tip in York Landing. RCMP resources will continue to be in the York Landing & Gillam areas.
We thank the community for their patience & understanding & ask them to continue to be vigilant.
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 29, 2019
“We understand that this is a trying time for the community of York Landing and that there’s a lot of uncertainty. We want to remind residents that we have a lot of police resources in the area, and that our priority is their safety.”
Locals were asked to remain vigilant, to stay indoors, and ensure their doors are locked. “And to report anything suspicious by calling their local police immediately,” Courchaine added.
Community on edge
Mounties have been searching parts of northern Manitoba for nearly a week as Schmegelsky and McLeod continue to evade arrest. Their efforts intensified after the possible sighting near a dump in York Landing came in from a community safety group — the Bear Clan Patrol.
Chief Leroy Constant with the York Factory First Nations told NEWS 1130 his community is on edge.
“There’s a heavy police presence here — there’s approximately 30 plus officers here in our community, and the last, I’m going to say, [24 hours] has been very stressful on everybody, as the news has broke about a possible sighting,” he said. “Everybody is on edge, first off, and still are. The feeling is still the same.”
Meantime, Chief Constant said a lockdown was in place, and only designated volunteers were allowed to be “out and about.”
Chief Constant believes the fugitives could have used rail lines to travel the rough and marshy terrain.
Related video: Bear Clan eases fear in Northern Manitoba
Police have urged people not to post any photos or information about the whereabouts of officers to social media, and have said so far more than 200 tips have come in.
The pair are wanted in connection with the second-degree murder of UBC sessional lecturer Leonard Dyck, as well as the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.
The bodies of Fowler, 23, and Deese, 24, were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway, about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs. Dyck’s body was found near a burned out camper owned by McLeod and Schmegelsky near Dease Lake. The Port Alberni men were first reported missing, and later deemed suspects in three killings.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is received.
-With files from Taran Parmar, Lisa Steacy, and Lauren Boothby