A 21-year-old man says he and his friends weren’t looking to steal when they pulled into Gerald Stanley’s farm around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Rather, Eric Meechance said they were trying to get help with a flat tire.
Meechance said he had gone for a swim with Colten Boushie, their girlfriends and another friend had been in the river that day near Maymont, Sask. He said they were on their way home to Red Pheasant First Nation when the tire blew out.
Meechance said they were attacked almost immediately upon stopping in Stanley’s yard, located about 90 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, halfway between Cando and Sonningdale, Sask.
“All of a sudden some guy, he just came out and he just smashed our windshield,” he said.
From there, Meechance said his friend tried to drive away.
“He couldn’t really see because the windshield was cracked, it was all spidered across,” he said.
Meechance said they hit a vehicle parked in the yard and that’s when he and the driver got out and took off running. Meechance said as far as he knew, Boushie and the two girlfriends were still in the car at that point.
He said he was still running when the man allegedly opened fire.
“We were maybe like 10, 15 feet from the vehicle and I just heard a shot go off — boom,” he said.
Meechance said he heard more shots as he scrambled for cover, passing a woman who he said had been mowing the lawn at the home.
“I just ran past her and I just ran right to the bush and then all of a sudden there was a STARS air ambulance flying over me,” he said.
Meechance said he was picked up several minutes later by a police canine unit some distance from the Stanley property.
“I just started walking on the road because I had nothing to hide, you know? I knew the cops were coming.”
He said he only learned after being arrested that Boushie, 22, had died after being shot.
Meechance said he was speaking out because of accounts alleging a confrontation with Stanley. He said he wanted to make it clear he and his friends didn’t go to Stanley’s farm to cause trouble.
“We didn’t even talk to the dude. He just came out of nowhere. We were parked there and then he just came out of nowhere and he just smashed the windshield,” he said.
Information about a confrontation was provided by RCMP in a media release the day after the shooting.
“Initial investigation has revealed five individuals entered onto private property by vehicle in the rural area and were confronted by property owners who were outside and witnessed their arrival,” the release read.
“A verbal exchange occurred in an attempt to get the vehicle to leave the yard and ultimately a firearm was discharged, striking an occupant in the vehicle.”
In the same release, RCMP said a man, woman and girl in the car were taken into custody as part of a “related theft investigation.”
On Thursday, police said no one – other than Stanley – was in custody; however, “charges are still being considered with respect to some property-related offences pending further investigation.”
Eric Meechance says he was in the vehicle that pulled into Gerald Stanley’s yard before Colten Boushie was shot. pic.twitter.com/ZAGWIlLjak
— Bryn Levy (@BrynLevy) August 11, 2016
Family calls for justice
Family members gathered Thursday at the Red Pheasant community hall, awaiting the arrival of Boushie’s body from North Battleford.
Jade Tootoosis said she was Boushie’s cousin, but that the close extended family referred to each other as brothers and sisters.
“We want to speak for our brother, for our loved one as much as we can and for people to know that he was a good person and he was a gentle person,” she said.
Boushie was described as a hard worker who often did odd jobs around the community for a bit of extra spending money. Skyler Brown, another cousin, said Boushie was working to become a firefighter. Family members and people contacted in the community all said Boushie was not known to be a troublemaker.
“He was important. He was loved. He was respected and we’re going to miss him. And I don’t want his memory to just drift away,” Tootoosis said.
Tootoosis said online comments from people applauding Boushie’s death have driven her off social media for now.
“It made me sick to my stomach with anger and with sadness. For one, we lost our brother. We’re trying to process that. We’re trying to process the judgment that people were having upon my brother not knowing who he was, not knowing what took place,” she said
Tootoosis said she worried about the impact Boushie’s death may have on the relationship between the Red Pheasant community and its neighbours.
“Where can we feel safe? Where can we break down if we have vehicle issues? We can’t break down on the back roads because someone’s going to come out with a gun,” she said.
With Boushie’s funeral still to come, Tootoosis said it’s difficult to think about an eventual court case.
“All I hope is that the person who did this is held accountable for his actions, and to the utmost, highest degree. Because we’re not going to get our brother back. And I refuse to let this just be a small issue, a small event,” she said.
Stanley, 54, has been charged with second-degree murder in Boushie’s death. To date, none of the allegations against him have been proven in court.