KAMLOOPS – It’s been three days of shock, fear, concern, heart-ache, anger and finally, maybe even a little relief as the City of Kamloops and its detachment of RCMP officers came to grips with the shooting of an RCMP officer.
Cpl. Jean-René Michaud, a 40-year-old father of two, was carrying out perhaps the most basic and most common of RCMP duties—a traffic stop—at 2:45 a.m. when gunfire rang out.
Details are still limited but backup arrived quickly. We don’t know if that rapid response came by chance or if Michaud had enough advance warning to report it on the radio or if Michaud reported the plate and it returned a name with a lengthy and violent past. He likely wasn’t investigating organized crime alone, as Canada’s public safety minister heard and reported to a House of Commons committee.
Whatever the backup officer understood about the situation, it was enough for him to return fire and, it appears, wound his target.
Police said Michaud remained conscious and informed his rescuers of what happened. Again, by some chance, the altercation took place in Batchelor Heights, one of several neighbourhoods with one road in, one road out. The quick response from the backup officers meant their suspect was somewhere in that neighbourhood.
That was both a curse and a blessing. They had their subject trapped, but the armed and dangerous man was also amid a neighbourhood of sleeping residents. With daylight and the usual bustle of a Wednesday morning—no one was allowed out without a vehicle search. And no one was allowed back in until late afternoon.
Not that anyone knew any of this at the time. The neighbourhood was simply locked down as police swarmed the neighbourhood and carefully picked their way through with dogs, a heavily-armed and armoured Emergency Response Team and air support overhead in a tense 12-hour manhunt.
At 4 p.m., police announced they made their arrest—a 36-year-old man with a long and violent record and a previous conviction for firearms offences and the shooting death of a friend.
Now the city waits and holds hope Michaud will fully recover. After two ‘successful’ surgeries, he remains in intensive care in critical but stable condition. Police have said the support from the community has been overwhelming.
“On behalf of Cpl. Michaud and his family, Kamloops RCMP would like to thank the public for their continued support, generosity and well wishes,” RCMP spokesperson Cheryl Bush said.
Below is a timeline of the investigation and its subsequent events.
DEC. 3, 2014
2:45 a.m. - Cpl. Jean-Rene Michaud stops a 1998 white Intrepid near the corner of North River Drive and Batchelor Drive. He is shot and a backup officer exchanges gunfire with suspect. Michaud is rushed to hospital where he undergoes surgery.
5:12 a.m. - RCMP send out a release asking the public to be on the lookout for the car involved as they conduct check stops in the Batchelor Heights area in search of suspects.
10 a.m. - RCMP hold a media briefing at the downtown Kamloops detachment to provide an update on the situation.
10 a.m. - The school district decides to cancel outdoor recess and lunch at many schools in the city as a precaution.
12:30 p.m. (3:30 EST) - At a Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in Ottawa Min. Steve Blaney says, “I was informed this morning that the front-line police officer from the RCMP in British Columbia was wounded. This happened while two RCMP members were performing a vehicle stop in Kamloops, British Columbia at 2:45 this morning as part of an ongoing operation investigating organized crime. One member was shot. The RCMP members returned fire, but the suspect fled the scene and was later apprehended.”
1:53 p.m. - RCMP evacuate some residents and close down the Batchelor Heights neighbourhood to traffic as a safety precaution.
Around 2 p.m. - Two arrival flights are cancelled due to restricted airspace because of the police helicopter working in the area.
3:26 p.m. - RCMP send out a release stating, “Media reports of arrests made in this case are inaccurate but we will continue to work to bring updates as new information becomes available.” Michaud's name is made public by RCMP.
4 p.m. - RCMP announce an arrest has been made; Batchelor Heights reopens except a portion of Raven Drive.
4:30 p.m. - RCMP hold a media briefing to announce the arrest and give an update on the closures. Media is told Independent Investigations Office will be investigating the RCMP as the suspect sustained an arm injury.
Around 9 p.m. - Traffic is open on Raven Drive.
Dec. 4, 2014
10 a.m. - No further arrests have been made, police continue to investigate at a house on Raven Drive.
11:30 a.m. - The suspect car is removed from 1133 Raven Dr.
1 p.m. - Independent Investigation Office releases a media statement saying the suspect's injury was not deemed serious enough in accordance with Police Act; won't be pursuing the investigation further.
2 p.m. - RCMP says suspect will be in court today and three others have also been arrested.
2 p.m. - Crown spokesperson Neil Mackenzie confirms Kenneth Michael Knutson is facing four charges in connection with the shooting, including one of attempted murder.
3 p.m. - Knutson does not make a court appearance. Charges are sworn privately. He is due to make a video appearance in court Dec. 18.
Dec. 5, 2014
11 a.m. - Charges are laid against a second person, Marquee Jasmin Klim, in connection with the case. Klim is due to appear in court Dec. 11.
11 a.m. - RCMP say Michaud has undergone a second surgery and remains in intensive care.
1:30 p.m. - Family members of Chris Lesniak speak to Info News about how the news of Knutson's alleged involvement in the shooting has opened up old wounds; Knutson was convicted of criminal negligence causing death after he killed Lesniak in 2002.
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