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Two people dead, one critically injured in shooting

Quiet neighbourhood shaken after deadly gun attack

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West Nipissing residents, especially those in the normally quiet residential area of Leblanc Road, are still reeling from a shocking gun attack that left two people dead, including the gunman, and another critically injured on Sunday night, August 26.

The drama began at approximately 8:15pm, when the West Nipissing Police Service (WNPS) responded to a shooting that occurred in the area of Drive In Road and Leblanc Road. The 911 call to police was made by a woman reporting that shots had been fired on her Leblanc Rd. property, though police did not indicate if the caller was a victim or a third party.

WN Police called in reinforcements, with OPP from both North Bay and Orillia detachments responding. Upon arrival, police had an interaction with the gunman, a 46-year old man whom they have not identified, and the man fled into a wooded area. That sparked a search that lasted well into the night, until the man was located, dead from a gunshot wound, at 2:06 a.m. on August 27. While the search went on for the armed man, police evacuated residents in the immediate area and asked locals to stay inside and lock their doors and windows, and also closed area roads and part of Hwy 17. Evacuees were allowed to return home around 4 a.m.

Police found one of the gunman’s targets dead, though they did not release the victim’s name, gender or age, nor their relationship with the gunman. A second victim, a 59-year old female, was critically injured and transported to hospital for treatment. Her current status has not been updated, and she has not been identified either. Her relationship with the gunman and the other victim, if any, was also not revealed.

While the WNPS and the OPP’s North East Region Crime Unit continue investigating the homicide, the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been called in and is now examining the police intervention. Five investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to the case. The SIU investigates incidents involving the police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury or death. It has not been divulged whether the gunman’s fatal shot was self inflicted or resulted from an exchange of fire with police. All police agencies are staying mum on the details, and both WNPS and the OPP have indicated that further communication will be limited.

“The (SIU) has been contacted and has invoked its mandate. As a result, the OPP and the West Nipissing Police Service will not be able to provide any further information,” reads an OPP release dated August 27. 

The police agencies and SIU are also asking for assistance from “any person with information related to this incident.” They are asked to contact the WN Police, OPP or Crimestoppers. The SIU “is also urging anyone who may have any video evidence related to the this incident to upload that video through the SIU website.”

While the danger is passed and people are sleeping easier, one man whose family was evacuated says they are still feeling edgy after the traumatic experience. He preferred not to be named publicly, but shared comments with the Tribune.

“I wasn’t home at the time but I was coming home from work. When I showed up to Leblanc road, it was blocked off and I couldn’t get through. There were a lot of cops with heavy artillery... I walked up to them and got told to return to my vehicle. I kept telling them I have a wife and three kids at home, but they kept telling me to go back to my vehicle, and no one was going to get by. I had nowhere else to go. I got back in my vehicle and called my wife and told her what was happening; that the police weren’t letting me get through. She and the kids had no idea what was going on. [...] It stayed like that for another two hours. By 10:00 p.m., my wife called me and said an officer showed up with guns and everything and told them they had to leave the premises. She said ‘I got no vehicle’ so she called me to go and pick her up. So I returned to Leblanc road and when I got out of the car to explain the situation, again the police told me to return to my vehicle. I explained that I had received a call to come pick them up, that my kids were crying and freaking out. They sent an officer to escort her to me. When the cruiser dropped them off, my kids were crying and jumped into my arms. I got a hold of somebody and we stayed there overnight. My kids were terrified and didn’t sleep all night. Nobody slept. It was a difficult time for me because they were so close but I wasn’t able to help them. It was crazy and scary. The kids were petrified and didn’t know what was going on. The police didn’t share with us any news so all we had to go on was all these rumours on social media. We don’t really know still what to believe. I reached out to them at 6:00 am the next morning and they told me it was safe to return home. So now we’ve just got to go back to regular life – thinking it’s not going to happen again. But last night none of my kids could sleep. They all had nightmares. The thunder and lightning was banging outside their window and they’d wake up screaming, thinking they were in that situation again. I had to call in at work to stay with them because none of them slept. It was a really rough experience on our whole family. Just seeing the cops at the door with all that artillery, they didn’t have a clue what was going on!”

Many other residents also expressed distress during the long ordeal, and in a normally peaceful neighbourhood, this sudden and unexpected burst of violence will likely stay in people’s minds for quite some time.

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