Shots rang out in Chemainus late Friday afternoon as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Fisheries Protection officers were working to apprehend at least three people suspected of illegally harvesting clams, according to North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.
The incident led to a manhunt in the community involving the Island District Emergency Response Team for two other individuals who fled into a nearby wooded area.
Dozens of RCMP cruisers lined a section of Chemainus Road into the evening as officers worked to identify the two outstanding suspects, also alleged to be involved in the illegal harvesting activities end of Howe Road, near the Chemainus River.
No one was injured during the incident and RCMP were able to safely extract the federal conservation officers and three perpetrators within minutes of the shots before requesting backup from the SWAT team.
Motorist were allowed to pass through the area but advised not to stop or leave their vehicles due to safety concerns.
Several RCMP were observed in camouflage carrying assault rifles sparking concern from local residents on social media.
RCMP said one of them men was arrested without incident as his residence on Squaw Hay One First Nations near Chemainus.
“I am very proud of our members’ response to this incident, said Insp. Ray Carfantan of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. “I want to thank our federal partners from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for their excellent work as peace officers, and the public for their patience and understanding during our response to this potentially volatile situation.”
Robert Wayne Guerin, 49, has been charged with Careless use of a Firearm and Unauthorized Possession of a Weapon. He was brought before a judge and issued a conditional release.
Guerin is scheduled to appear in a Ducan court in April.
The other suspect turned himself in but was subsequently released pending further investigation.
No details were immediately available about charges by DFO.