Man shot dead by RCMP near High Prairie led police on 24-hour manhunt, police watchdog says

The province’s police watchdog is investigating two encounters RCMP had with a 29-year-old man near High Prairie, Alta., during a 24-hour manhunt that started Thursday morning and left the suspect and a police dog dead.

Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has released more info on the incident last week in northern Alberta.

The incident started at about 11 a.m. Thursday when a man driving a red Cadillac fled from an RCMP attempted traffic stop, ASIRT said in a release. 

RCMP Chief Supt. Kevin Kunetzki said police had been tracking suspect Lionel Ernest Grey in Winagami Lake Provincial Park, northeast of High Prairie, and that Grey was wanted on outstanding warrants.  

About 30 minutes later, a different RCMP unit located the suspect’s vehicle stuck in the mud and partially covered by a blanket in the Winagami Lake Provincial Park area, near Range Road 175 and Highway 679. The vehicle was unoccupied and police found three different types of ammunition and identification belonging to the man inside.

Two more police officers and a police service dog were called to the scene and the police service dog picked up a track, leading the four officers east into thick bush for about three to six kilometres over about two hours, ASIRT said. 

When officers encountered Grey, he exchanged gunfire with police, ASIRT said. The RCMP service dog, named Jago, was struck and killed during this incident. None of the police officers were injured and Grey was not believed to have been struck during that encounter. The officers were taken from the area by a civilian search and rescue helicopter. 

Police service dog Jago and his handler arrived at the High Prairie detachment in August last year. (RCMP)

ASIRT was called to investigate because the officers had discharged their service weapons. Meanwhile, RCMP officers continued the search for Grey. 

Members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team were sent to the same area where the shootout had taken place and several police officers shot at Grey and believed he had been hit. After trying to force Grey out of the thick bush, a physical search of the area found that he had gotten away again. 

Police encountered Grey two more times during the manhunt through dense brush over several hours, and “issued verbal commands to him,” but did not shoot, ASIRT said. 

The next day at about 11:45 a.m., two RCMP officers assigned to a perimeter containing the manhunt spotted Grey in a ditch east of Winagami Lake Provincial Park.

The officers got into a confrontation with Grey and both officers shot at Grey, who fell to the ground in the tall grass, ASIRT said. Medical officers called to the scene attempted to treat Grey but he died at the scene. A loaded semi-automatic rifle and a range finder were recovered from the scene.

ASIRT is investigating the actions of police during the incident, while the RCMP investigate Grey’s actions, the police watchdog said. 

ASIRT is also investigating a separate incident in Ardmore, Alta., after RCMP there shot and killed a man from the Cold Lake area Sunday evening.

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