Spiritwood RCMP arrest four people in connection to emergency alert issued in Witchekan Lake First Nation

Herald file photo

Four people have been arrested in connection with a series of shootings on Witchekan Lake First Nation that resulted in an emergency alert last week.

Around 12:51 a.m. on September 2, Spiritwood RCMP received a report of shots fired and immediately attended the Witchekan Lake First Nation. Witnesses advised that a male in a grey Pontiac was shooting at a driver in a white Ford vehicle.

Later that day and as officers continued to investigate, a vehicle fled from police in the community around 2 p.m. Two occupants abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the bush. With the assistance of Police Dog Services and the RCMP Critical Response Team, a 31-year-old man was arrested.

A report was received by Spiritwood RCMP around 7:30 a.m. the morning of September 5, stating occupants wearing masks in a black Nissan SUV had stolen gas from a gas station in Leoville, Sask.

Police then received another call stating an occupant of the SUV discharged a firearm in the direction of a resident in the neighbourhood, no injuries were reported.

Due to the imminent risk to public safety identified by investigators, a dangerous persons emergency alert was broadcasted to all residents in the Witchekan Lake First Nation and surrounding areas to seek immediate shelter.

All available officers from the Spiritwood RCMP, along with additional RCMP resources were called to locate the black Nissan SUV.

Police began to receive numerous reports of the suspect vehicle driving dangerously and swerving into incoming traffic between the Witchekan Lake First Nation and the Pelican Lake First Nation, which continued to evade the RCMP.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., police located the suspect vehicle in a cornfield near the Witchekan Lake First Nation. Officers were advised the occupant of the vehicle may be armed with a firearm.

The vehicle continued to drive dangerously and at a high rate of speed in the cornfield. Police followed until the black Nissan SUV eventually caught fire and slowed to a stop. The driver and lone occupant of the vehicle was apprehended without incident.

Police confirmed the driver was not involved in the initial report of shootings. The investigation into locating the persons involved in the shootings, including gathering and analyzing witness interviews, continued.

At 2:41 a.m. on September 6, the dangerous persons alert issued by the Spiritwood RCMP was cancelled.

The next day, Spiritwood RCMP charged and arrested three individuals involved in the firearms incidents that sparked the initial emergency alert. At this time, police believe there is no risk to the public in relation to this ongoing investigation.

Dallas Sakebow, 31, is charged with theft of the truck and breaking, entering, and committing a resident.

Kelly Witchekan, 22, is charged with 11 offences, some of which include possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, carrying a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, and using a firearm while committing assault with a weapon.

Shane Witchekan, 32, is charged with 12 offences, some of which include robbery with a firearm, careless use of a firearm, and possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition.

All three individuals appeared in court in North Battleford on September 9.

Melvin Starblanket, 33, was also located by police on September 7 in connection with these incidents.

The investigation is ongoing.

“The Saskatchewan RCMP would like to thank members of the public for their diligence in providing pertinent information relating to this investigation and for following the safety instructions in the dangerous persons emergency alert,” said a statement by the RCMP.

The Spiritwood RCMP is asking anyone with information they may have on the shootings that occurred on September 5 to call the Spiritwood RCMP detachment at 306-883-4210 or their local police detachment. Information can also be submitted anonymously by contacting Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.saskcrimestoppers.com.