Teen Murder Suspects Spotted 'Scavenging' Shortly Before Massive Police Operation
Canadian officials have stormed a tiny community in northern Manitoba as they hunt the suspected killers of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend.
Two weeks after Fowler and partner Chynna Deese were shot dead on a highway in British Colombia, suspects Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, remain on the run.
The pair were spotted near a small riverside community of York Landing, 200 kilometres southwest of Gillam, on Monday, sparking a massive police operation.
"A heavy police presence can be expected in the area," the department warned.
Community leader Leroy Constant took to Facebook to confirm that officers were on their way, urging the 400-odd residents to stay inside, with their doors locked.
"We received word that there was a possible sighting around our community landfill moments ago," he posted.
It was the Bear Clan Patrol, which works to keep the community safe, who saw the two men scavenging at the dump before fleeing into bushes as they were pursued by armed residents, according to journalist Josh Boswell.
Moments later, there were unconfirmed reports of gunshots in the area as a police helicopter hovered nearby.
But, despite the sighting of the teens, reports of gunshots, and subsequent police operation, the suspects remained on the run.
"Despite reports -- there is no one in custody at this time," police confirmed after a flurry of speculation on social media.
"RCMP officers remain in the community of York Landing & continue to investigate the reported sighting of the two suspects. All required resources are being used in this ongoing investigation," the statement continued.
Over the weekend, officers door knocked in Gillam, where the teens last known getaway was found torched in dense bushland.
They knocked on every house and every building in the town of roughly 1,200, while also searching any abandoned properties and vehicles.
More than 1000 officers, helicopters and tracking dogs were out looking for any trace of the pair, while a Royal Canadian Airforce jet was called in to assist from the air.
The only movement came from a polar bear below, "just some of the wildlife that can be found in northern Manitoba," the department warned.
Investigators have received more than 200 tips in the past five days but the RCMP warned the public to stop posting potential sightings on social media, explaining that "it could create a substantial delay in the response by police".
The teenagers have been charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, 64, who was found shot dead in British Colombia on July 19, 500 kilometres away from where Fowler and Deese were killed four days earlier.
They have not been charged with the murder of the couple
Fowler's father, NSW Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, last week made an emotional plea at a press conference for the public to help solve the crime that had "torn two families apart".
He described it as "the worst ever love story."
The father of Schmegelsky -- one of the teens on the run -- spoke out two days later, telling Canadian press his son was dealing with some "very serious pain" and "wants his hurt to end".
"They're going to go out in a blaze of glory," he said. "Trust me on this".