Man found dead on Samson Cree Nation, Maskwacis residents worry about gang violence
One man was found dead and two others injured in a home on the Samson Cree Nation townsite in Maskwacis just before 2 a.m. Monday.
RCMP from Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin responded to a call about a disturbance at a house. They found two injured men who said they had been assaulted and a third man who died from his injuries. RCMP believe all three men were the victims of a home invasion.
Police do not have anyone in custody in relation with the incident and are calling the death suspicious.
The home was later blocked off with police tape and police were searching the surrounding area and interviewing neighbours.
There are a number of resources being used in the investigation, including police dog services and the Forensic Identification Section. An autopsy will be done in Edmonton on Wednesday to confirm the cause of death.
This is the second death in recent days Maskwacis RCMP are investigating. On Saturday, they were called in after a 50-year-old man was found dead in a home on the Pigeon Lake First Nation, located about 40 kilometres west of Wetaskiwin. Police declared the death a homicide, but few other details were provided.
At this point, there’s no reason to believe the two deaths are linked, the RCMP said.
Still, some residents of Maskwacis are fearful.
“The gangs have been getting worse,” Miranda Greene said. “That’s scary.
“I made some homemade deadbolts for my house for the front and back door because I’m scared they’ll kick in the doors and mace us or something.”
Greene has lived in the community for 24 years and doesn’t want to leave, but is scared. She said there are bullet holes in the side of her house.
“I just wrote a letter concerned about my child because I live in the heart of the townsite home and I’m concerned for her safety and other children.”
The RCMP met with the chief and council in a meeting that was open to community members on Monday. The meeting was planned months ago, initially to discuss the lines of communication between RCMP and the community. However, much of the conversation was focused on the violence of the last few days.
“I’m just hoping that they’ll do something… besides patrolling the townsite home and having cameras,” Greene said. “They need real action.”
Samson Councillor Vernon Saddleback said if the residents feel the violence is getting worse, council needs to listen.
“Our townsite is just like a magnet for all the people that all just congregate and that’s where all the activities are happening,” he said. “I don’t doubt that there’s a perception that it’s worse this year.”
He believes part of the recent crime spike is connected to the warmer weather bringing people outside.
“It’s a never ending cycle for us — trying to address those issues in our community.”
Saddleback said the meeting was focused on how to improve the situation.
“We don’t want to hear the problems, we all know it. What are the solutions? Everyone is giving their input. Hopefully at the end of the day we’ll have a better idea of what the people want.”
Trena Soosay said her son was stabbed six times on Friday and is now recovering in hospital.
“I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m furious. I’m rageful and I’m thinking: ‘Where are the police?’
“My neighbours are scared to talk because they don’t want their house getting invaded, smashed up, shot up,” Soosay said. “They don’t want to get beat up.
“I said: ‘Today it’s going to stop. It has to stop. Something’s got to stop.'”
Soosay wants to see criminals forced out of the community.
“They need to be banished from here and not come back. Stronger laws for the RCMP to hold them in the cells, not for them to be walking around.
“It has to start today because I guarantee there’s going to be retaliation from these other gangs and we’re stuck in the middle of it,” she said. “Who’s going to save us? Who is going to protect us?”
Maskwacis is made up of four First Nations communities and is located about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton.
With files from Sarah Kraus and Karen Bartko, Global News
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