Residents to return home as B.C. police continue search for suspected gunman
Published Saturday, October 11, 2014 7:54AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 11, 2014 9:58PM EDT
As a search for a man at the centre of an RCMP manhunt nears the end of its third day in Slocan, B.C., many of the community’s residents have returned to their homes after a police lockdown was partially lifted on Saturday.
The small town, located in the southeastern region of B.C., was placed under a full lockdown on Thursday, after a confrontation that allegedly involved the exchange of gunfire between a man and police.
Peter DeGroot, 45, has been named as a suspect after police said a man armed with a rifle shot at them in Slocan on Thursday during an investigation into a dispute between two people. When police returned fire, the man escaped into the woods, investigators said.
With a suspected gunman on the loose, the town was placed into a lockdown. Saturday, police said most of Slocan’s residents would be allowed back into their homes, except for those living near where the confrontation took place.
“We still have checkpoints in place and check people coming in and out, but people are going to be allowed to come into their homes as of today,” Staff Sgt. Don Smawley told The Canadian Press earlier on Saturday. “There is limited access. We are urging the public to be cautious and limit their outdoor activities if they can.”
Suspect known to police
As the hunt for DeGroot continued on Saturday, details are emerging about the alleged gunman that suggest he was a loner who made his neighbours feel uneasy.
“He was living in a vehicle with a tarp over it,” local resident Donna Lavigne told CTV Vancouver on Saturday. “He was talking to himself, yelling at himself and it just made you feel uneasy.”
Residents in the area told The Canadian Press that DeGroot had been living in a van for the past year on a lot that had a small barn on it. They say he kept animals, including cows, pigs and approximately two dozen chickens.
Pat Ashton, another area resident, said DeGroot had spoken in the past about his military experience.
“He never really delved into it a lot – he just said he was an ex-military and a survivalist,” he said.
The man who was involved in the dispute that led to the confrontation with police told CTV Vancouver that after the incident, heavily-armed RCMP officers swooped in to the area. The man, who did not want to be identified, did not say what prompted the confrontation that led to the police incident.
Police have said that DeGroot is known to police, and is someone who is considered armed and dangerous.
With a report from CTV Vancouver