A wave of violent crime at the Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations has elders and RCMP concerned.
Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to three potentially life-threatening events in less than two days late last week, including an incident where a man was found shot last Saturday outside a residence on the reserve northwest of Rocky Mountain House.
In another incident the previous day, RCMP were shot at while pursuing a vehicle on Sunchild First Nation.
The mayhem began on Dec. 17 around 12:30 p.m. when police were called out to a report of a disturbance at an O’Chiese First Nation residence.
Police were told that a man was allegedly smashing up a home and threatening to kill neighbours.
When police arrived they surrounded the home and negotiated with a male suspect to come out.
“The male came out armed with a knife and began walking towards and threatening the RCMP members,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Laurel Scott. “He alternated between being outside and inside, and threatening to shoot the police.
“At one point he exited the residence with an object wrapped in a blanket, which he pointed at police.”
RCMP were eventually able to convince the man to follow their orders. He dropped the blanket-wrapped object, which turned out to be a cane. After a brief struggle, he was arrested and taken into custody.
Rodney Wayne Strawberry, 31, is facing eight criminal charges as a result of this incident, including assaulting a police officer with a weapon.
Less than 32 hours later, police were also facing another extremely dangerous situation.
About 7 p.m. on Dec. 18, RCMP responded to a call of a shot fired outside a home on Sunchild First Nation.
No one was injured and a group of suspects drove off in a vehicle that was known to police.
Several RCMP units descended on the area and located the vehicle.
“A traffic stop was attempted but the vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated,” said police.
RCMP’s Emergency Response Team and a dog team were called in and Drayton Valley RCMP sent help.
“During the pursuit, a firearm was discharged towards the police.”
RCMP used a spike belt to stop the vehicle. All of the vehicle’s occupants piled out and ran into the nearby woods.
Police contained the area and three suspects soon gave themselves up. The Emergency Response Team and dog unit tracked and found and arrested and two other suspects.
Firearms were found by police.
Elliott John Lagrelle, 38, Evan Redcalf, 26, Sonya Lynn Chipaway, 20, Livia Eaglestar Goodrunning, 26, and Seth Lagrelle, 18, are jointly facing six criminal charges. Elliott Lagrelle is facing a further seven charges, including failing to comply with conditions of an undertaking and assault with a weapon against a police officer.
Evan Redcalf is facing four further charges, and Sonya Chipaway charged with uttering death threats.
RCMP said it was very fortunate that no one involved — suspects or police — were injured during the incidents.
Last Saturday about 4:55 a.m., Rocky RCMP were called back to Sunchild First Nation.
They found a man outside a home with a gunshot wound. He was taken to hospital and General Investigation Section officers called in.
The man remains in hospital while the RCMP investigation continues.
“The Rocky Mountain House RCMP is striving to work with O’Chiese and Sunchild First Nations in an effort to restore community safety” says Staff Sgt Carl Dinsdale.
“I recognize that these incidents are wearing on the spirit of both the communities and our Members.
“The leaders and Elders from both Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations, as well as the Rocky Mountain House RCMP, are extremely concerned about the rise in violent crime.”
Dinsdale said RCMP will continue to do their best to reduce crime in the area.
”It is vitally important that the communities support and assist the police with these investigations by coming forward with any information they might have.”
Anyone with information about any of the incidents, or any other crimes or suspicious activities, contact the Rocky Mountain RCMP at 403-845-2881.