One dead, Fort Smith residents on edge after taking shelter on police orders


Parents can pick up their children from Paul William Kaeser High School in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, though police have yet to announce a change after advising residents to shelter in place for that they are looking for the suspect during a shooting.

At least one person died in the incident, police said in a news release around 10:45 a.m. A police operation has been underway in the community of around 2,500 since, with few other details, especially if one or more suspects are involved.

Fort Smith resident Ronnie Schaefer said there was still a heavy police presence in the community around 1:30 p.m.

He reported seeing officers in tactical gear as well as Hay River police in the community.

RCMP closed off Field Street around Calder Avenue, where they placed barricades and used spikes to prevent approaching vehicles.

A Field Street resident said he was forced to evacuate his home as police searched for the suspect or suspects.

Police said in the news release that they were looking for a white 2019 Ford Explorer with a Government of the Northwest Territories logo on the side. The release said the Fort Smith RCMP have “responded to a number of firearms-related complaints” and that updates will be provided.

“A number of RCMP resources have been engaged and are on their way to the community,” the statement said.

The Department of Lands building at Fort Smith, with broken glass in the front door window. (Submitted by Ronnie Schaefer)

Unconfirmed reports from residents indicate that there were a series of break-ins on the night of March 4 in the community, including a territorial government office building housing Department of Lands offices, in which weapons were allegedly been stolen.

Ashley Makohoniuk, spokeswoman for the Lands Department, said in an email “although this is an active investigation, we ask that you direct any questions on the details to the RCMP who are the authority on the ground”.

“A little scary right now”

Schaefer said earlier Friday morning that people were nervous looking for a vehicle with the government logo.

Patti-Kay Hamilton said she was trying to relax with beads when she got a call from her husband, telling him about the situation.

“Everyone is scared, especially people who might be alone,” she told CBC News.

“Of course we all know each other, so people know the people who have been hurt.”

Isabel Lehman accepted.

“It’s not a comfortable feeling, if whoever did this hasn’t been apprehended, then damn it, how safe are we?” she says.

Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos mentioned an incident in Fort Smith in the Legislative Assembly on Friday.

“I just want to let my community know that I’m so sorry for the chaos that happened in Fort Smith last night, and I’ll be home tonight and take care of it,” she said. .

Salt River First Nation Chief David Poitras said he was in constant contact with police and trying to keep his community members informed.

“I think people are just wondering what’s going on,” he said.

“Some people are scared… I think a lot of people are wondering when this is all going to end.”

Community closures

Several facilities have announced their closure for the day, including the Magasin du Nord, the Recreation and Community Centre, the arena and the library.

An employee of Joseph Burr Tyrell Elementary School announced on Facebook that there would be no bus service and that parents could pick up their children from the back or front of the school.

The Northwest Territories Health Authority announced on Facebook that it will be reducing services due to the current situation.

Health facilities, including the health center, lock entrances and limit access. Emergency or emergency care is available and accessible through the emergency room entrance.

Anyone who sees the vehicle in question is asked to call 911.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Fort Smith RCMP at 872-1111 or Crimestoppers at


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