North Battleford’s mayor is expressing alarm, but assuring the public they’re safe, after a police chase in a residential neighbourhood led to an RCMP cruiser being rammed and a suspect being shot over the weekend.
Police responded Saturday night to reports of a person being chased and shot at from a vehicle, leading them to find and pursue a white sedan suspected of being tied to the incident. The chase ended near several homes when the suspect car slammed into a cruiser near the corner of 105th Street and 15th Avenue.
Brydon Whitstone, a 22-year-old man from Onion Lake, died en route to hospital after being fired on by police soon after.
“This is certainly out of the ordinary for North Battleford,” North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater told reporters following a brief city council meeting Monday evening.
“We’re concerned about that kind of activity.”
The mayor also cautioned the public not to make assumptions over what may have led to the shooting, saying rumours were causing frustration in the city.
Bater was also asked about FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron’s assertion the incident would create further mistrust of the police by Indigenous peoples.
“I don’t know where that’s coming from,” he said. “I think it’s premature to talk about motivating factors.”
In a phone interview earlier Monday, Bater said “there was nothing to suggest to me that race had anything to do with it.”
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Bater did say the shooting, along with the court proceedings around the death of Colten Boushie, have led to a bigger push for reconciliation in the city.
“It’s heightened our resolve,” he said. “We want to do what we can to be an inclusive community for all, and to make sure that all people feel comfortable here.”
Despite incident, RCMP stats show North Battleford crime trending down
The mayor and council heard a report Monday night from the North Battleford’s city manager on behalf of RCMP.
The report noted crime in the first three quarters of 2017 was down compared to 2016.
Bater said the report showed a promising trend, adding RCMP had assured him there was no further threat to public safety after the weekend’s incident.
Insp. John Sutherland, North Battleford’s RCMP detachment commander, was originally supposed to deliver the report but was unable to attend the meeting due to matters related to the shooting.
While North Battleford’s councillors had the opportunity to make inquiries or proclamations during the bi-weekly meeting, Saturday’s incident was only referenced once in a brief exchange when Coun. Kelli Hawtin expressed concern the large response over the weekend could lead to staffing shortages through the week.
Bater said there were no expected disruptions to public service from the RCMP because of the incident.