Search for escapee continuesManhunt began Wednesday morning for Denecho King
Northern News Services
Friday, August 12, 2016
A man police consider dangerous and facing trial on murder and attempted murder charges became the first to escape the North Slave Correctional Centre Wednesday morning.
RCMP officers speak with a taxi driver on Bigelow Crescent shortly after noon on Wednesday. Officers confirmed they were searching for Denecho King. - Shane Magee/NNSL photo
The escape of Denecho Noel Calvin King, 23, around 11:15 a.m. prompted a heavy police presence on city streets and temporarily limited access to two city facilities near the jail.
He remained a wanted man as of Thursday evening.
"King is considered dangerous and is facing serious criminal charges, the public needs to remain vigilant and report any sightings, or suspicious activity to the RCMP immediately," stated RCMP civilian member Marie York-Condon. "We will respond. At no time should anyone of the public approach King."
Police established a tip line at 765-3956 and urged anyone with information to call immediately. Tipsters can also call Crimestoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS, online at nwtnutips.com or texting NWTNUTIPS plus your message to 274637.
Yellowknife detachment commander Insp. Matt Peggs warned Thursday anyone caught aiding or withholding information about King's location could faces criminal charges.
"It is a serious offence to escape lawful custody and a serious offence to aid in any way - before, during or after the fact - this escape from lawful custody," Peggs said.
He added the public will continue to see an increased police presence in the city as the search carries on, including periodic roadblocks.
Police had set up a roadblock on Highway 3 on Wednesday, the only road to the rest of the country, as other officers swept Kam Lake Road, downtown and near Con Mine.
"We do have every officer we have available in Yellowknife out to assist and we're doing our best," said RCMP Sgt. Donnie Duplissea on Wednesday afternoon. Peggs said officers from other detachments in the region had been assisting with the search and police were following up on tips received so far.
How long that effort may last as the search stretches into a third day wasn't clear.
King is described as five-foot eight inches tall, weighing 150 lbs with a medium build, of aboriginal ancestry, with crew cut hair, light facial hair (a mustache) and last seen wearing a green shirt and grey sweat pants. Police warned he may have changed his clothing. King was in jail awaiting trial on a charge of second degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the death of John Wifladt and assault against Colin Digness.
King appeared in court Tuesday by video from the jail to set a date for a preliminary hearing later this year. His lawyer Jay Bran declined comment about the escape.
Around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, four RCMP vehicles were seen around the Multiplex and Fieldhouse with officers looking at the area behind the buildings.
About 30 minutes later, police in tactical uniforms were in the Kam Lake part of the city while officers stood guard elsewhere, including above the city's public works garage and William McDonald Middle School where a soccer camp was taking place Wednesday.
An RCMP officer approached the director of the soccer camp at the school and whispered to him.
The children were called together from their games on the pitch and moved into a sea can shipping container at the back of the school. They were later moved inside the school.
One of the directors said he had never experienced something like this before.
"Nothing ever like this," he said, looking out the window.
A line of parents soon came to the door looking for their children.
Eventually, as fewer children remained, the mood in the hallway relaxed.
Wendy Malkin was on her way to the school along Taylor Road to drop off a rain coat for her daughter who was attending the outdoor camp.
She was stopped by a municipal bylaw enforcement officer outside the fire hall. Concerned about the safety of her daughter, she was directed to a nearby RCMP officer who said the children were safe in the school.
"As of now, from what I've heard from the RCMP, he hasn't been caught yet," Malkin said in the school parking lot around 12:40 p.m.
"I know who it is so it's kind of a scary situation and I hope they get it settled soon."
A police officer later came into the school to check on the remaining children and offer an update on the situation.
Bylaw enforcement officers were standing at the doors of the Multiplex and Fieldhouse off Kam Lake Road around 12:30 p.m. Parents and children at the Fieldhouse indoor playground weren't able to leave until around 12:20 p.m.
Identification was being checked for parents entering shortly after that. Several men stood outside the doors of the Multiplex, including Ray Chiasson.
"I was at home when my wife brought my kids home from soccer camp - the camp was informed almost immediately that there was an issue and the camp was moving indoors because of the rain as well ... so we very quickly found out what was going on and RCMP were present there almost immediately," he said.
"I've been through worse," Chiasson said, referring to his time living in Oromocto, N.B. when Justin Bourque shot five RCMP officers, killing three of them, in Moncton in 2014.
During the search for Bourque, there was what turned out to be a false report Bourque was in Oromocto, prompting panic in that community and people rushing home.
"That was worse compared to this. Obviously there's a concern but the (police) presence is significant which is nice to see," Chiasson said.
Nearby on Williams Avenue off Woolgar Avenue, RCMP officers in green tactical uniforms were showing a taxi driver stopped on the side of the road what appeared to be a photo on a cell phone.
A police dog was with the officers. An officer there confirmed they were searching for the escaped man. The officers split in two groups around 12:20 p.m. and left in different directions, one group headed back toward Woolgar Avenue and another going down Williams. Later, officers in unmarked vehicles could be seen driving around 51 Avenue downtown, Forrest Drive, Con Road and Finlayson Drive.
- with files from Joseph Tunney