A man wanted in connection with a murder in Saskatchewan and a shooting that left a police officer injured near Golden was found dead near Revelstoke Wednesday morning, the RCMP reports.
Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket was found dead east of Revelstoke following an overnight manhunt that began near Golden on Tuesday afternoon.
“The RCMP can now confirm that we have located the body of the suspect we were searching for. He was found deceased,” wrote Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, an RCMP spokesperson in a news release. “A positive confirmation of identification and the exact cause of death is now the subject of a full investigation by the BC Coroner Service.”
Thunderblanket was first reported found at around 11:30 a.m. A few hours later, Mayor Mark McKee told several media outlets, including this one, that Thunderblanket was in police custody. At 5 p.m., the RCMP announced he was found dead.
RCMP said they delayed reporting on Thunderblanket’s death “in order to ensure that next of kin notifications had been completed, as well as notifications to all the partner agencies who have a connection or interest in this case.”
Watch a video of the press conference held by Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP following Tuesday and Wednesday’s events. The article continues after.
The IIO says there was a further interaction between Thunderblanket and police near Revelstoke, after which he fled from police.
Marten Youssef, a spokesperson for the IIO, said the watchdog was sending nine investigators to Revelstoke. The investigation could take anywhere from six to 18 months, he said.
Youssef would not provide any information on the incidents that led to Thunderblanket’s death, saying the only information came from RCMP and needed to be independently verified first.
Thunderblanket was wanted in connection with a murder in Little Pine First Nation, Saskatchewan Monday night.
On Tuesday afternoon, he was stopped at a police road stop about 25 kilometres west of Golden. He allegedly fired at police, injuring an officer, and fled in another stolen vehicle. The officer experience non-life-threatening injuries and the Southeast RCMP Major Crimes Unit is investigating the shooting.
Photo: RCMP officers dressed in camouflage gather outside the Revelstoke detachment before deploying Wednesday morning. ~ By Mike Thomas
RCMP closed the Trans-Canada Highway while they searched for Thunderblanket. His vehicle was found just east of Revelstoke and the search focused on the Johnson Heights neighbourhood east of town.
Police blocked off access to the highway, leaving many travellers stranded for hours. They searched Johnson Heights and the surrounding area by helicopter and with police dogs. Residents of Johnson Heights were told to stay at home and those that were in town were not allowed to return home until close to midnight.
On Wednesday, things quieted down in Johnson Heights, but the search continued for the fugitive. Police were searching vehicles that were leaving the area, and were only allowing residents in.
Photo: RCMP officers search a vehicle leaving Johnson Heights, where the search for Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket was focused. ~ By Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review
At 11:30 a.m., an RCMP officer told the Review the search was over, but he did not go into details. A few hours later Mayor McKee confirmed reports Thunderblanket was in custody. At about 5 p.m., the RCMP reported he was found dead.
The whole incident left many people in town rattled, particularly in Johnson Heights, where police in camouflage uniforms were out with dogs searching the woods around the subdivision and a helicopter was circling overhead on Tuesday.
“It makes people nervous, especially in Johnson Heights. People aren’t able to get to their homes, but there’s also people here with families who have dead-bolted their doors, which people never do up here,” said Christine Christensen. “In Johnson Heights it is so quiet because we’re so far from town. You know your neighbours, you know who’s across the street from you, but there’s so much backcountry behind us that you don’t know who can walk in your backyard in five seconds.”