'Surrender yourself': Potlotek First Nation Chief makes heartfelt plea to Bridgewater fugitive
HALIFAX -- The search for a man accused of assaulting his partner and stabbing a police officer and a police dog stretched into its third day in Nova Scotia’s Lunenburg County on Thursday.
Tobias Charles Doucette, 31, has been on the run since late Monday evening and police are still focusing their search efforts south of Bridgewater, N.S., and in surrounding areas of Lunenburg County.
On Thursday, there was a heartfelt plea from Chief Wilbert Marshall to Doucette. Marshall is the Chief of Potlotek First Nation, which is Doucette’s home.
"Please surrender yourself," said Marshall. "Nothing is going to happen to you, you know. I promise that and I’ll be there if I have to."
Marshall has known Doucette his whole life and says the entire community is concerned for his well-being.
"You don’t sleep much, you’re always thinking about him," Marshall said. "I was thinking about him on the way up, I’ll think about him on the way back. I talk to his dad every day, I don’t know how many times a day, we’re a pretty close community so everybody is worried about him back home — not just one person, everybody is."
The First Nations Chief says he will do anything he can to help Doucette come forward.
"We are working with the RCMP now," Marshall said. "I actually have my cousin here, he’s an RCMP, he’s Tobias’ cousin also, they reached out to us. We just want him to come home safely and surround himself, if he’s gotta call me, or call anybody from home, I’m willing to come down and see him if I have to."
SEARCH FOCUSED IN LUNENBURG COUNTY
Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jenn Clarke said the Mounties have support from a number of provincial and federal agencies as the search for 31-year-old Doucette continues in densely wooded area and rural community just outside of Bridgewater and are hoping to avoid any more violence.
"We need to know where Tobias is," said Clarke. "We need to provide an opportunity for him to come out and we do want to resolve this situation peacefully."
Clarke said there have been reported sightings of Doucette in other parts of the province, but those sightings haven’t been confirmed.
Doucette’s last confirmed sighting was in a wooded area near the LaHave River and Conquerall Mills Road Tuesday afternoon.
Clarke said a police dog and handler spotted Doucette coming out of the river and, when they tried to arrest him, he stabbed the dog with what was believed to be a stick.
“Then he fled the scene so the focus was then on the dog and getting him to veterinary care,” said Clarke. “He’s stable for now but we’re very closely monitoring him. He’s being treated by a veterinarian in the local area.”
The RCMP is leading the search for Doucette since he was last spotted in their jurisdiction. Clarke said the RCMP is being supported by a number of provincial and federal agencies, including air support from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, confirmed his department approved Nova Scotia’s request for assistance from the Department of National Defence to help support the RCMP’s search.
“We’re actually overwhelmed in a very good way with the number of resources that we have that are helping us with this operation,” said Clarke.
“The Armed Forces are assisting us right now and if we need different resources or more resources we’ll certainly ask for them.”
Police say they are hoping the situation ends peacefully and negotiators are prepared to communicate with Doucette.
“We do have negotiators who are able to communicate with Mr. Doucette should he choose that option and they’re available for him if he was to call our dispatch number,” said Clarke. “He can reach them and we can try to talk it out and work out the issues.”
Police are urging people in the search area to remain inside with their doors locked as much as possible and to remain vigilant.
“We’ll certainly notify people as soon as we’re aware of any change in the current situation, so if we are going to stand down the operation, if we’re going to change our focus area, we’ll certainly let people know,” said Clarke.
Police have been providing updates on Facebook and Twitter.
POLICE OFFICER RECOVERING AFTER STABBING
The manhunt for Doucette started after officers with the Bridgewater Police Service responded to a domestic violence call at the Bridgewater Hotel on High Street around 11 p.m. Monday.
Police allege Doucette attacked the responding officers with an edged weapon, stabbing one officer in the neck.
He then fled the scene on foot.
Sgt. Matthew Bennett, a 13-year member with the Bridgewater Police Service, sustained serious injuries. He was taken to hospital, where he underwent surgery on Tuesday.
Police say his surgery was successful and he is recovering in hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.
“Out of respect for the privacy of Sgt. Bennett and his family, we will be providing no additional updates at this time,” said the Bridgewater Police Service in a statement on Thursday.
The domestic violence victim, who is Doucette’s common-law partner, had sustained minor injuries before police arrived. She was treated in hospital and has since been released.
Police say she is no longer at risk and is in a safe location.
Doucette is facing charges of assault and attempted murder and he will also face charges in connection with the dog’s stabbing.
The Bridgewater Police Service is still leading the investigation into the incident at the hotel.
The RCMP and Bridgewater police are working together to follow up on tips related to the Doucette’s whereabouts.
POLICE WARN DOUCETTE SHOULD NOT BE APPROACHED
Doucette is 31 years old. Police describe him as an Indigenous man with brown hair and green eyes. He is six-foot-two inches tall and weighs 220 pounds.
He was last seen wearing black shorts. He was not wearing a shirt or shoes.
Police warn that Doucette may be armed with a knife and should not be approached if spotted.
Anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity or has information on Doucette’s whereabouts is asked to contact police.