The search for a runaway fugitive in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, entered its fifth day on Saturday – yielding no arrests. While town officials say the public is not at risk, there is a level of uncertainty in the community.
On Saturday, the area of Bridgewater was relatively quiet – considering a manhunt continues in the region for 31-year-old Tobias Charles Doucette.
“I’m not really afraid, because the police are here, and he’s not going to get by,” says resident, Betty Penney. “I’m not really afraid, because I don’t think he would try to break in.”
Police patrolled areas such as Hollingsworth Road on Saturday afternoon in search of Doucette, who is wanted on charges of assault and attempted murder after police say he stabbed an officer in the neck at a local hotel on Monday night. Additionally, police say Doucette assaulted an RCMP canine with a stick – causing the dog to be rushed to a local vet.
Doucette was last seen wearing only a pair of shorts. While some residents claim to have seen him – with at least one sighting being confirmed by the Town of Bridgewater – his whereabouts remain a mystery.
“Where is he? Is he really in the neighbourhood? Is he really in Bridgewater?” questions Penney. “Apparently, yesterday, he was seen on a camera.”
Bridgewater Mayor, David Mitchell, says community speculation isn’t helping the situation and encourages residents to seek information from reliable media sources.
“The speculation that we’re hearing is everything from ‘oh they found him,’ – last night I heard someone say they heard gunshots,” says Mitchell. “Those things aren’t true and just lead to increased fear in the community – or maybe even a sense of relief that we shouldn’t yet have to let our guard down.”
On Saturday, at around 1:40 p.m., Town of Bridgewater communications manager, Partick Hirtle, confirmed the man in a photo circulating on social media is Doucette, via email. Hirtle also confirmed the photo was taken on Tuesday. The picture, which was shared on Facebook, appears to show a shirtless man wearing shorts, running from a driveway towards a road.
“We want this to end safely and peacefully, we don’t want Tobias to be hurt,” says Mitchell. “We want him to turn himself in, or someone to help lead police to him so he can safely turn himself in. There’s already enough pain in our community and his community, and we don’t want that to continue.”
Mitchell says the past few days have been tense for the community.
“It went from being advised to remaining indoors, to you can go about your day if you feel comfortable – but remaining on alert,” says Mitchell. “The search seemed to move outside town, which gave us a little bit of a sense of relief and additional resources were brought in; but then, yesterday, hearing that it was redirected back into town – it’s a rollercoaster.”
“I don’t know why he doesn’t give up, but I think he’s afraid of the police too,” says Penney. “They’ll get him somewhere, I hope.”
Meanwhile, although police aren’t asking residents to stay inside their homes, they are warning the public not to approach Doucette if they see him. Police are also asking anyone with information concerning Doucette and his whereabouts to contact them.
Additionally, on Thursday, in a press release, Bridgewater Police Services said Sgt. Matt Bennett, the officer who they say Doucette stabbed in the neck, remains in hospital after undergoing surgery on Tuesday. Additionally, the canine, who police say Doucette assaulted, is expected to recover.
The search for Doucette continues.
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