KELOWNA, B.C. — The subject of a massive police manhunt in southern British Columbia after an exchange of gunfire in the tiny community of Slocan last week is dead, RCMP said late Monday.
Police say Peter DeGroot was discovered Monday afternoon in the vicinity of the community in B.C.’s West Kootenay region, but they refused to disclose whether further shots were fired.
”There was an interaction between the subject of the ongoing search and the two emergency response team members, we can confirm the subject is now deceased,” Supt. Frank Smart said in a statement at the RCMP’s regional headquarters Monday night.
B.C.’s police watchdog Independent Investigations Office was called in to investigate, as it is anytime someone is killed or severely injured as a result of police involvement. Few details of the events leading to DeGroot’s death could be released to avoid compromising the watchdog’s investigation, Smart said.
Residents were no longer in danger he added.
Police were helping members of DeGroot’s family as well as the two officers involved in Monday’s incident, Smart said.
Police say they were called on Thursday over a dispute between two people when they say they were shot at with a rifle, resulting in an exchange of gunfire.
DeGroot, 45, fled into the woods triggering an influx of dozens of officers, including helicopters and search dogs.
Police initially asked residents to stay indoors and children from a local school were escorted by police to their parents.
Over the weekend, Mounties used a news release and Twitter to make a direct appeal to DeGroot to contact them, while residents said messages were also delivered over loudspeakers.
“Peter, come in, so we can talk,” RCMP tweeted on Sunday.
Neighbours reported Degroot had fallen on hard times and was scared about being evicted. They said he kept to himself was usually only seen tending a rag-tag bunch of farm animals.
Resident Mimi Gillis was queried by police in their search and said she mostly felt they were doing a good job.
“But we didn’t need armoured tanks — trucks like a Brink’s truck, only more beefed up,” she said. “It was overkill. It was good to have all the undercover cops, the helicopters and the tracking dogs and the infrared and men up the mountain, going through the mountain like (with) a fine-tooth comb.”