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UPDATE: Lockdown in Slocan enters third day as police relax restrictions

WATCH:  Residents of Slocan, B.C. are spending third day in a row under a lockdown after an alleged assault turned into a shooting match with police. Jeremy Hunka reports. 

VANCOUVER – Tensions are still running high in Slocan, B.C. as police continue an extensive search for a man who allegedly shot at RCMP. However, some lockdown restrictions have been lifted and residents are being allowed in.

Late on Thursday evening, RCMP established a containment area to the west of Slocan where they believe the suspect, 45-year-old Peter DeGroot, is hiding, but so far have yet to find him.

RCMP say the situation began at 12:21 p.m., when they responded to a dispute between two people on Slocan West Road near Gravel Pit Road.

While they were on the scene DeGroot allegedly fired at police with a long rifle before running into the surrounding forest.

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Police say DeGroot is believed to be armed with multiple firearms. They have searched his residence and seized a number of firearms.

He is known to police.

DeGroot is Caucasian, 6ft1, 170lbs, with short brown (balding) hair, blue eyes and glasses.

Peter DeGroot is considered armed and dangerous.
Peter DeGroot is considered armed and dangerous. RCMP Handout

RCMP in Slocan evacuated a small number of homes Thursday and are keeping the village on lockdown. Additional resources including air support, the Southeast District Emergency Response Team, a crisis negotiator, police dogs and a tactical armoured vehicle were sent to the scene on Friday morning.

“We would like to thank the citizens of Slocan for their assistance in this difficult time,” said RCMP Cst. Kris Clark in a statement.

“Considering that an armed suspect remains at large, we must continue to ask residents to remain inside for their own safety.”

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RCMP Southeast District Commander Frank Smart echoed Clark’s statements and also thanked the citizens of Slocan. He said the situation is continually being assessed and asked the public not to discuss police movements and positioning.

Police were still checking vehicles and asking residents to be extremely cautious Saturday morning.

Local resident and business owner Dean Crossley told Global News he’s met DeGroot.

“I’m acquainted with him…he lives on a small property…he’s got some cows and some sheep and some chickens there,” said Crossley.

“I haven’t had any issues with him. Some neighbors have been into verbal confrontations and bouts with him.”

According to residents, DeGroot lived in a makeshift house and tended to cows on a field. He is an experienced bushman, but residents Global News spoke to say they don’t feel too threatened.

“It is eerie,” says resident Allyson Sawyer. “They don’t want anyone in Slocan to really say anything. We want it to be over with. It’s got a lot of people worked up.”

WATCH: Slocan resident Dean Crossley talks to Aaron McArthur on Global News BC1 about being on lockdown:

No one has been injured. A local school and daycare were initially locked down but have since been evacuated.

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Jeff Jones, superintendent of School District 8, said all students and staff were evacuated from the school in Slocan City.

Village fire chief John Gates said police stopped him at about 2:30 p.m. Pacific time while he was on his way to pick up his car from the mechanic.

“A constable came out and stopped us and told us to turn around and go back home,” he said.

Highway 6 remains open but motorists are cautioned to avoid the village.

Police are asking everyone not to post the movements and locations of responding officers through social media as it may jeopardize police and public safety.

Anyone with specific information that can assist in locating the suspect is asked to call 9-1-1.

– With files from Canadian Press

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