The mayor of Port Alberni has spoken to the mayor in the small town in Manitoba at the centre of a large-scale search for two murder suspects who live in her community.
Sharie Minions said she reached out to Dwayne Forman, the mayor in the northern town of Gillam, to offer her support from one rural leader to another.
“Their community is struggling with the same thing,” Minions told Black Press Media.
She said both places have been inundated with news media and international attention as the hunt for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, both from Port Alberni, drags on.
The last confirmed sighting of the two men was on July 22 in Gillam, about 275 kilometres from Churchill, Man.
They are suspects in the double homicide of a young couple near Liard Hot Springs the week before, and have been formally charged with second-degree murder in the death of a Vancouver man whose body was found at highway pullout near Dease Lake, not far from the young men’s burned-out truck.
As of Friday afternoon, RCMP have begun canvassing door to door in the area around Gillam and nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation, adding McLeod and Schmegelsky may have already left the area, as they could have changed their appearance and gotten help from someone who did not recognize them.
Police were at both families’ homes on Thursday night, removing items from the home where Schmegelsky lived with his grandmother.
“Port Alberni is a tight-knit community with a big heart, and this news is weighing heavily on us,” Minions said. “It’s impossible to imagine the heartache the families are going through, and our community wants to help in whatever way we can.”
“Our community wants a timely and peaceful ending to this terrible tragedy,” she added. “We encourage anyone struggling during this time to seek out support in the community.”
Anyone feeling they need to speak to someone can call Kuu-us Crisis Line Society at 250-723-4050 or find them online at www.kuu-uscrisisline.ca.