A 37-year-old man Lethbridge man has been charged in connection with what police have described as a “targeted shooting” at an encampment in the city on Sunday.
The shooting was reported at about 8 p.m. in the 500 block of Stafford Drive S., the Lethbridge Police Service said.
LPS officers said they found a 33-year-old man with a gunshot wound. He was taken to hospital by EMS with non-life-threatening injuries and has since been released.
Investigators said the accused and the victim were known to each other and residents of the encampment. A verbal fight led to the victim being shot once in the leg before the other man fled the scene, according to a police.
After speaking to witnesses, a suspect was identified and arrested a short time later in the area of the 600 block of Stafford Drive N. Police said they have not recovered the gun used in the incident.
Police secured a search warrant, and officers searched tents and structures in the area of the shooting.
“In this particular incident where a firearm was used, again it’s not common,” said Acting Staff Sgt. Bruce Hagel of LPS’ criminal investigation division.
“This is the first one this year, but any time a firearm is used — no matter where it is — it’s always a concern.”
On Monday night, police said Nathan Parker Spearchief was in custody and had been charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, unauthorized possession of a firearm, use of a firearm while committing an offence, possession of a firearm obtained by the commission of an offence and possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public.
Police said the accused will remain in custody as he awaits a judicial interim release hearing.
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As of Monday afternoon, police remained at the scene.
A sign on the premises warned of an encampment clean-up in 48 hours, but city officials said that was being postponed as police continue their investigation.
Just last week, city council directed administration to return with a report on encampment response strategies and provincial government advocacy plans.
Director of community services Mike Fox said there is a prompt response when safety concerns arise.
“LPS, if they ever feel there is a risk to human safety, they would contact us right away and we’d be making sure we help them address it,” Fox said. “LPS deals with any criminal activity.”
Social service providers have also been contacted to assist those living in the encampment who may have been impacted by the incident.
Lethbridge police said that due to it being a targeted incident, there was no evidence to suggest any risk to the general public.
“There’s firearms-related incidents in all areas of the city,” Hagel said. “What I would say to the public is that we’re out there, being as proactive as we can with the resources we have.
“We live in this community too, our kids go to the same schools, so we’re concerned about public safety as well and we’re doing all we can to ensure that public safety.”
Search and rescue teams have been asked to assist in locating the weapon. If anyone comes across a firearm, they can call Lethbridge police at 403-328-4444.
–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News