PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, Ont. — Provincial police say they’re conducting an investigation into the “attempted murder of OPP officers” after facing gunfire at a Rossmore home and negotiating the surrender of two men.
Eric Paul Wildman, 34, and another man were arrested shortly after 6 a.m. Friday by Ontario Provincial Police at a home on Massassauga Road, Const. Aaron Miller said. The second man’s name was not immediately released.
Wildman was wanted by Royal Canadian Mounted Police in connection with the disappearance of his neighbour, Clifford Joseph, 40, who was last seen June 7 at his home in St. Clements, Man., north of Winnipeg. The RCMP are treating the case as a homicide investigation.
An Ontario Provincial Police news release Friday evening said detectives “are now investigating the attempted murder of OPP officers” and focusing on the property south of Belleville. They were expected to remain at the scene for several days, the release added.
Miller said the search for Wildman had, on Thursday, been concentrated along the Manitoba-Ontario border.
Miller said he had no information on what brought Wildman to the home on a wooded lot about three kilometres west of Rossmore. The 1.5-storey home with a yellow exterior is just west of Massassauga Point Conservation Area. Neighbours reached Friday declined interview requests.
“We had a full slate of investigative options at our disposal,” Supt. Michael Koppang of the Manitoba RCMP major crime unit said Friday at a news conference in Winnipeg.
“There was no stone or means left unturned,” Koppang said.
“All we can say is that we received information that the wanted individual was here,” Miller said from the scene.
The OPP received three reports Thursday evening of a 2020 Chevy Equinox at the Rossmore house, Koppang said. The vehicle bore a licence plate matching one on a vehicle Wildman was reported to have rented June 12 at Winnipeg International Airport.
Miller said “a ton” of officers — including local patrol officers and detectives, an OPP canine unit, the emergency response team, crisis negotiators and the Tactics and Rescue Unit — converged upon the rural property.
“They executed a search warrant in the middle of the night,” Miller said.
“Officers attempted to enter a residence,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in an OPP video statement. “Upon entering they were met with gunfire coming from within the residence. The officers moved into a position of containment around the residence.
“After lengthy negotiations, the OPP crisis investigators were able to successfully have these two men surrender to police,” he said. “We’re very grateful that there were no injuries in this situation, as it could have been a very violent encounter.”
Miller declined to say whether police returned fire.
Miller said Wildman was taken to the OPP detachment in Picton, Ont., and was to be transferred to RCMP custody before being returned to Manitoba, where the RCMP had spent the past week searching for him.
The RCMP’s Koppang said the two police services were in contact, but he was not sure when the transfer would occur.
Wildman faces charges of unsafe transportation of a firearm and possession of a prohibited device without a licence, but Koppang said more charges were expected.
“The other individual (is) currently being questioned and the investigation remains ongoing,” an earlier OPP release added.
Miller said the OPP investigation into the Rossmore incident was continuing.