10/10/2014 07:03 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST

Slocan, B.C., Remains Locked Down As Police Search For Gunman

Kimberlee Reimer via Getty Images
A manhunt continued through the night halfway between Vancouver and Calgary in Slocan, B.C., where police believe they have cornered a heavily armed man thought to have shot at RCMP officers yesterday.

Homes are being evacuated in what police are calling "an area of containment" west of the village of Slocan, at the south end of Slocan Lake.

Police cleared the streets of the village earlier Thursday afternoon, after a man allegedly shot at police, then fled into the woods.

"Due to the nature of the offence and the risk to public safety, police are asking the residents within the village of Slocan to remain indoors until further notice," RCMP Const. Kris Clark said in a release just after 5 p.m. PT.

At 9 p.m. PT, the message was much the same. Clark said the suspect remained at large in the area around the southeastern community of Slocan and that residents should remain in their homes.

He didn't indicate how many homes in the community of about 300 people were being evacuated.

"Due to the sensitive nature of our police operations, no further details can be provided," he said.

Triggered by dispute

Police say the incident began just after noon when RCMP officers with the Slocan/New Denver detachment were called about a dispute between two people. While the officers were on scene on Slocan West Road near Gravel Pit Road, a man allegedly shot at the officers with a long rifle.

No one was injured, but the man fled into the surrounding forest. He was believed to be equipped with multiple firearms, according to police.

Southeast RCMP first tweeted the alert out on behalf of the Slocan detachment just after 3:30 p.m., only saying at the time that there was a serious police incident ongoing.

Police were asking anyone with information about the location of the suspect to call 911, but not to otherwise broadcast the information.

"As this is an unfolding event with an alleged armed suspect, we are asking that the movements and locations of responding officers not be divulged through social media. To do so may jeopardize police and public safety," Clark said.

School, daycare

A local school and daycare were initially locked down, then later evacuated.

Jeff Jones, superintendent of the area's school district, told CBC News that the district got a call from police at around 3 p.m. PT saying a man had fired shots from a high-powered rifle in the area. 

Witnesses in Slocan City told CBC News they saw several police cruisers racing into the town, which is about an hour north of Nelson, B.C.

Told to get off the street

Bob Strong, who was in Slocan City at the time police began evacuating it, said the situation is tense.

"I was out on the street when an RCMP officer came up to me and said, 'We're both targets right now, get off the street,'" he told CBC News.

He said he was told by police somebody had fired several shots and was still at large.

Antonia Crossley, who runs the Harold Street Café, told CBC News she was stuck in town, indoors.

"I'm stuck in my restaurant," she said. "Police told me, 'Stay in the building, there's a guy across the river who shot at police.'"

The post office, only restaurant and only store are closed, she said: "The whole town is dead."

Crossley said all the children were taken from the local elementary school to the firehall on buses, where parents showed ID to pick them up.

Police officers were co-ordinating traffic to allow people to pick up their children and get home from work. Police also closed Highway 6 through the valley.

"We continue to assess the risk to public safety and commit to update the public should the situation change or if we have further direction in the morning," Clark said.


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