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'We heard several gunshots’: Witnesses near Latchford shocked at violent scene


Two people near Latchford, Ont., say it was a scene they never thought they’d witness in their small community.

Colleen Pender said she heard guns being fired early Thursday evening as a shelter-in-place order was issued.

Late Friday Ontario police watchdog the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) confirmed that a 26-year-old man died as a result of the incident and another man was later arrested.

Earlier in the day the police watchdog had only confirmed that two male suspects fled a traffic stop and exchanged gun fire the area of Highway 11 and Portage Bay Road.

“So about 6 p.m., we heard several gunshots real close to the house here,” Pender said.

“So I called 911 because I saw police lights and I was hoping a police officer didn't get shot.”

Grabbing her daughter, she headed downstairs, avoiding windows along the way.

The shelter-in-place order affecting residents in Latchford, approximately 130 kilometres north of North Bay, Ont., along Highway 11, was lifted early Friday morning.

The order was imposed as police were searching for an “armed and dangerous” suspect described as a 30-year-old, 5-foot-11, 180-pound male of Middle Eastern descent with medium-length hair and an athletic build dressed in black. This individual was taken into custody uninjured by police according to SIU.

This was the view at the turn for Temagami Marine Road on Highway 11 North just before 10:30 p.m. on March 7, 2024. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

“We never experienced this before, other than highway's been closed for weather, but not a shooting,” Pender said.

“I never thought I would. We ducked down on the floor from a gunshot. So it was pretty scary. There were several.”

Peter Nietlispach said emergency responders poured into the area.

“There was probably about 20 police cars, two helicopters and dogs,” Nietlispach said.

'Chaotic scene'

The Town of Latchford's Mayor Sharon Gadoury-East told CTV News said it was a “chaotic” scene as the news spread on Thursday.

“I was out to attend a meeting and we had to cancel it,” Gadoury-East told CTV News.

“But again, while we were there, we locked down just to be safe because we didn't know where they were. Just talking to some of the townspeople, we've never really had to lock up our houses, but this time we really had to.”

The uncertainty was stressful, she said, but residents were cautious.

“We were actually going to have a meeting just up the street from my house at the legion and we were there and we were waiting for the other people to come and they messaged us to let us know they were caught on the highway near this where this was all going on,” Gadoury-East said.

“So just to be safe, because we had no idea where these people were, we locked the doors and stayed inside.”

“If you happen to see an OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officer, buy them a coffee because they went through a lot last night,” she said.

“I know our citizens are very happy that they were there to protect us. We'll just stay at home and stay safe for now while they're getting their stuff done down the street.”

Police have said they will release details about the incident at some point Friday.

– With files from journalist Dan Bertrand Top Stories

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