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Manitoba manhunt ends with gunfire, arrest of Eric Wildman in Ontario

Click to play video: 'Manitoba homicide suspect arrested in Ontario' Manitoba homicide suspect arrested in Ontario
The massive search for Manitoba homicide suspect Eric Wildman is over but it did not end without shots being fired. Brittany Greenslade reports – Jun 18, 2021

Ontario Provincial Police say they were shot at while they were trying to arrest a suspected killer Friday.

After a more than week long manhunt, Manitoba RCMP announced Friday morning that Eric Paul Wildman, 34, who is suspected in the homicide of rural Manitoba man Clifford Joseph, 40, had been arrested in a home outside of Belleville, Ont.

OPP said Friday they received a tip from community members in Prince Edward County that Wildman was there, and went to the home early Friday morning.

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“Upon entering, they were met with gunfire coming from within the residence,” said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt in a video statement posted on social media Friday.

“The officers moved into a position of containment around the residence and our OPP crisis negotiators were able to make contact with the two occupants inside the house.”

Read more: Manitoba homicide suspect feared armed and dangerous spotted east of Whitemouth Wednesday evening: RCMP

After what OPP called “lengthy negotiations,” the two people inside the home surrendered peacefully, said Schmidt. One of the people arrested was Wildman.

The other person, a man, was an “associate” of Wildman’s, said Supt. Michael Koppang, of the Manitoba RCMP.

“Our indication to this point is that (Wildman) was heading to that residence.”

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Neighbour Steven Neary told Global News he was awakened at 2 a.m.

“I woke up to my dog and I had SWAT at my front door, told me to wake up the family and go down in the basement and lock the doors,” said Neary.

“We ended up getting told that my neighbours, beside me, had somebody that they were looking for and it was dangerous and armed.

Koppang said the RCMP and OPP set up roadblocks to prevent Wildman from making it to the home, but said Wildman managed to slip through, and they aren’t sure how.

No one was hurt.

“We are unaware of any other related incidents during the week,” said Koppang.

Wildman has been charged with Unsafe Transportation of a Firearm and Possession of a Prohibited Device without at licence, said Koppang. More charges are expected.

Read more: Timeline: The search for Eric Wildman, and what we know so far

Wildman is the main suspect, Manitoba RCMP said, after Joseph wasn’t seen again after leaving his home north of Winnipeg on June 7.

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Police said earlier this week Joesph’s disappearance was being investigated as a homicide and a warrant had been issued for Wildman’s arrest.

Joseph’s body has not been found, Koppang said Friday that the search for Joseph will continue and he wouldn’t comment on why it’s a being treated as a homicide.

Koppang did say, however, that police are not searching for his remains in Ontario.

Clifford Joseph. Supplied / Felicia Joseph

Manitoba RCMP had previously warned the public that officers found police tactical equipment, patches and other items resembling officer uniforms when they searched Wildman’s truck on Sunday.

They also found a significant number of firearms and ammunition in the truck.

Over the next few days, RCMP said they had credible sightings of Wildman in Lockport, Man., just north of Winnipeg, and in Whiteshell Provincial Park, prompting a heavy police presence in the area.

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