A psychological assessment has been ordered for one of a pair of prisoners accused of shooting a sheriff in front of the Whitecourt courthouse and escaping in his van.

Jake Mcintyre and Clayton Ness appeared in court Tuesday via closed-circuit television,  making their first appearance following the shooting which rocked the small town last month.

The two men face charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after they allegedly overpowered a guard as they were brought into the courthouse after being arrested as part of an RCMP drug bust. Police believe the operation may have had links to the White Boy Posse gang.

Mcintyre and Ness still face trafficking and possession charges in relation to that arrest.

The sheriff, who was shot in the hand during the escape, is said to be recovering. People close to the sheriff tell CBC News that he has lost a finger, but has been well enough to visit his colleagues.

People living in the small town say they are still shocked at what happened. Kim Badry, who lives nearby, wants to see more security at the courthouse — especially if police continue to target gangs.


Whitecourt resident Kim Badry hopes to see increased security following the shooting last month. (CBC News)

"Because they crack down, they're at court. You've got an angry gang member with a gun — there you go right," she said.

"So what do the cops do? Keep cracking down. But there might be more shootings later."

The government says it's responding to those concerns by launching an internal review, which is expected to follow the criminal proceedings.

The pair will remain in custody and return to court on April 9.