One suspect is in custody after shots were fired in Williams Lake early this morning.
Williams Lake RCMP received reports of shots being fired at a home in the 900-block of Western Avenue just after 4 a.m. on Monday. It is believed to be a targeted incident since the home was recently occupied by Indi Ron Johnny, who was killed in March in a targeted, gang-related shooting. The home is currently occupied by a family with no criminal connections.
No one was injured in Monday’s incident.
READ MORE: Williams Lake residents fight back against gang violence
After police arrived on the scene, another shot was heard from an unknown direction, which resulted in a larger police search.
As a precaution schools were closed and buses were delayed in the Williams Lake and 150 Mile House areas. School District 27 Superintendent Mark Thiessen told Global News they were contacted at 5:15 a.m. by the RCMP to lockdown the schools as a safety precaution.
Along with having one person in custody, police seized a firearm.
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb told Global News the shots being fired may be due to a conflict between two groups and that “immediate action” must be taken to address gang violence.
WATCH: Global News spoke with one worried Williams Lake resident about ongoing violence in the area
As the search unfolded, the RCMP asked residents in the area of Nesika, Cataline, Columneetza and TRU schools to stay indoors.
Prince George RCMP Supt. Warren Brown said they were making a thorough search of the area to clear it and make sure it’s safe so the community can get back to normal.
The home where the shots were fired is still being secured by police, however the school district and local university have been notified they can continue with their daily activities. The schools will remain closed for the day, however the university was looking to re-open their doors at 10:30 a.m.
Escalating gang fight
Williams Lake city councillor Scott Nelson believes this latest incident is a retaliation.
“This is definitely a gang fight that’s been escalating and with Indi Johnny’s house being targeted again, we believe it’s a retaliation,” Nelson said.
Crime statistics from 2013 show Williams Lake tops the list of B.C. communities when it comes to violent crime severity. And Nelson agrees saying it’s a handful of prolific offenders that are responsible for the escalation of gang violence in the Cariboo community.
“We know that it’s a small group of individuals that are very prolific,” Nelson said.
“We have pushed the RCMP and federal government to try to ensure that if these guys are out of jail that they should have tracking devices… that will allow us to track them 24/7, 365 days a year.”
“If they’re criminals and they’re out of jail, they should be tracked and it’s as simple as that. These individuals that are wreaking havoc across the province —; whether you’re in Prince George, Williams Lake or Surrey —; these guys get out of jail, and the first thing they do is turn back to crime. And they’re wreaking havoc on communities across B.C.”
In February the city of Williams Lake voted unanimously to “inject” prolific and high-risk offenders with GPS tracking devices. At the time, Mayor Walter Cobb said there are as many as 20 prolific and 100 high-risk offenders in the community of just 14,000 people.
The Williams Lake city council does not have an implementation date for the project so far, but they are planning to discuss the idea with their provincial and federal counterparts.
K9 unit and police searching yards in north area of Williams Lake. Wayne
K9 unit and police searching yards in north area of Williams Lake.
More to come.