Mayor of B.C. fugitives’ hometown says outcome of manhunt ‘devastating’

Manitoba RCMP believe they’ve found the bodies of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky

News that RCMP in Manitoba have likely discovered the bodies of two B.C. fugitives that have been the subject of a Canada-wide manhunt is “absolutely devastating,” says Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions.

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, both of Port Alberni, were suspected in the deaths of three people in northernB.C. in mid-July. They were last seen on July 22 near Gillam, Man., and since then, the RCMP, the military and countless others have conducted an intense cross-country search that covered more than 11,000 square kilometres.

“We are definitely saddened by the news today, as a city and as a community. It’s definitely not the outcome that we had hoped for,” Minions said.

“No matter how you look at it, there has been so much tragedy. This has affected people across the country, and across the world. We’re thankful the search at least has come to a conclusion.”

READ: Timeline of the hunt for two Port Alberni men

Minions said she has not reached out to the young men’s families yet. “Over the last couple of weeks, I have tried to respect their privacy. But I am planning to reach out now,” she said.

The families of McLeod and Schmegelsky were not available for comment on Wednesday.

“We request that you respect privacy at this time, by keeping off our property and not ringing the door bell or banging on our door,” a sign on Schmegelsky’s grandmother’s door said. “We will not be making any statement.”

Gillam Mayor Forman said it’s not a surprise they were found dead.

“This is non-forgiving terrain … there was a lot of speculation this was likely to be the outcome,” he said. “The closure is here for Gillam and the Fox Lake area. But the closure for the victims’ families is far from over.”

RELATED: Bodies of B.C. fugitives believed to have been found in Manitoba

Deese’s brother, British Deese, told The Associated Press that the family needed time to process the news that the suspects’ bodies had been found.

“We are speechless,” he said in a text message, declining further comment.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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The McLeod family put up several ‘no trespassing’ signs on their property once news broke that their son, Kam McLeod, was suspected in three northern B.C. homicides. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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