The Canadian military has landed in Gillam, Man., with an aircraft to help join the search for two young homicide suspects in Northern Manitoba.
"Just another big shock to this community. To have the RCMP presence is one thing but military that's stepping it up another level," said Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman.
The Department of National Defence confirmed that a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg will assist with an aerial search.
The statement said an RCMP officer will be on board the aircraft to direct the search and said this remains an RCMP-led effort, with the Royal Canadian Air Force in a support role. The RCMP will determine the area for the air search.
RCMP officers have started going door-to-door at every home and building in the Gillam area. They're doing the same on the Fox Lake Cree Nation. Police are hoping this will help drum up new leads to help with the investigation.
Police are also searching large abandoned buildings like the Keewatinohk Converter Station Camp near Gillam, which has over 600 rooms.
Police started scouring the woods around Gillam, Man., and Fox Lake Cree Nation for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, after a burnt-out vehicle driven by the pair was found near Fox Lake Monday.
Watch as RCMP conducted roadside checkstops outside Gillam, Man., heading into the weekend:
The Gillam area is an isolated region of bog and bush with one access road.
Police have said Schmegelsky and McLeod may have changed their appearance to try to evade the intense search that includes officers from several jurisdictions searching on foot, with dogs and using drones.
The Port Alberni, B.C., men are suspects in the shooting deaths of a tourist couple in northern B.C. last week, and have been charged with second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck, a botany lecturer at the University of British Columbia..
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said Saturday that it has requested help from the Bear Clan Patrol, a neighbourhood watch group based in Winnipeg.
A statement from the assembly said the group is co-ordinating teams to fly to First Nations communities including Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, and War Lake First Nation.
Watch July 21 surveillance video of the suspects in Meadow Lake, Sask.:
"The patrol groups will provide a sense of security to our First Nations communities that are now facing a great deal of uncertainty. As we roll out this strategy, we ask that all community members continue to co-operate with the RCMP. If anyone spots these two young men, please contact the RCMP right away — do not put yourself at risk. Keep your doors locked and your kids close," Acting Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Sheldon Kent said in the statement.
This is the first time in its history that the Bear Clan Patrol has travelled to remote First Nations to act as "ambassadors" in a hunt for fugitives. The patrol group, which was created to keep the peace and assist residents in inner-city communities in Winnipeg, has expanded its reach to the northern portion of the province to back up Manitoba Mounties as they begin canvassing the homes of Gillam residents.
"We're not quite sure what it's going to be like," said James Favel, executive director of Bear Clan Patrol. "We're going to go up there, and we're going to provide ambassador services … be present in the community," Favel said.
"It's just about being there for the communities. That's our main focus."
Mounties said on Saturday there have been no new sightings of the suspects and no information to indicate the men have fled the area, though RCMP remain open to the possibility.
Many residents remain on high alert for the two men. "I'm still keeping an eye as I'm driving around, I'm still looking in the bush line thinking in areas they could be hiding," Mayor Forman said.
"I think it's still a very mixed emotions between different people ... I still feel that it's a high possibility that they're in the area," Forman said.
On Friday, the RCMP said someone may have inadvertently helped the men leave the area, but stressed there have been no confirmed sightings of the two since they were seen in the Gillam area on Monday. Police have said there have been no reports of local stolen vehicles since then.
The public across the country has been urged to keep a careful watch out for the pair.