Massive police presence at Innisfail residence

INNISFAIL—Dozens of specialized RCMP officers descended on a eastend neighbourhood where they conducted an intensive, closely guarded search of a bungalow on Friday.

INNISFAIL—Dozens of specialized RCMP officers descended on a eastend neighbourhood where they conducted an intensive, closely guarded search of a bungalow on Friday.

According to eyewitnesses, a vehicle caravan of various police units including Special Tactical Operations, forensics and police dog services rolled into the quiet close at around 8 a.m.

Police set up a blue canopy tent on the driveway of the bungalow at 4422 44th Ave. Close. Officers dressed in white coveralls walked in and out of the house intermittently through the day, sometimes bringing items to rest on tables inside the tent.

One officer was seen taking photos inside the front entranceway of the dimly lit house.

RCMP cordoned off sections of the road with yellow tape as well as the back alley so no one could get close to the scene.

Officers were on site until at least 6 p.m., shedding no light as to what prompted them to search the house in the first place.

Innisfail RCMP spokesman Cpl. A.J. Mand would only say hours later that the couple who live at the residence are alive and OK.

An RCMP news release reported the search was in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation. Despite a heavy police presence at the residence, there is no threat to public safety, said the news release.

Mand said a news conference will be held Monday morning at the Innisfail RCMP detachment.

Neighbours were bewildered by all the commotion so close to their front steps.

In one of the townhouses closeby along 48th Street, a couple watched from their upstairs window throughout the day. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she has lived in the area for a long time and knows the couple, although not well.

She said the man, who she believes is in his 50s, is a homebuilding contractor. The couple have no children, she said.

“We’ll see them every now and then walking,” said the woman.

Rosanna Martin, whose townhouse is directly west of the house being searched, said the couple who live inside the bungalow appear to keep to themselves.

“I’ve lived here for six years and I’ve maybe seen them four times,” said the mother of two small children. “I’ve seen them shovel their driveway and park their car just once.”

Martin said she was surprised to see such a massive police presence in the tiny town.

About 8,000 people live in Innisfail.

Martin then referred to last November’s bombing.

Victoria Shachtay, 23, died on Nov. 25 after a package delivered to her home exploded. Shactay, wheelchair bound following a single vehicle collision in 2004, was a mother of a seven-year-old girl. Police said at the time that she had been targeted to receive the package.

As of Friday, the investigation remains unsolved.

“And now we have this going on, it’s kind of crazy,” said Martin, mother of two small daughters. “It’s such a quiet area, especially when we have the RCMP (station) and paramedics (services) located so close by.”

Robert Marcil, who lives in another townhouse, said he went to bed on Thursday night and it was quiet until he woke up to see all the police vehicles around.

“It’s a little unsettling to see this happen so close to home,” Marcil said.

A woman, who rode her bicycle home after shopping at the Co-op grocery store, said a number of people are wondering what happened.

“Whatever it is, it’s too bad,” she said.

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