British Columbia

Peter de Groot manhunt sees life returning to normal in Slocan

People in Slocan are out on the streets going about their business again in the B.C. Interior community, days after the entire village was on lockdown due to a gunman who remains at large.
A trailer tows away an RCMP cruiser with a shattered window near where Peter de Groot lived. (CBC)

People are out on the streets going about their business again, and the mood is more relaxed in the village of Slocan where the search for Peter de Groot is now in its fifth day.

Investigators say they are receiving tips from the public but have so far been unable to find him.

A police lockdown of the village was lifted Saturday and residents are back out on the streets. Some, who were staying away, have returned home.

While many of the restrictions in the village have been relaxed, RCMP still have a heavy presence in the area. 

An RCMP helicopter combs the woods around Slocan as the search continues for Peter de Groot. (CBC)

Police are spending hours searching over the area's rugged terrain and have been every day since Thursday when de Groot is alleged to have fired a shot at police after they were called over a dispute between two people.

On Sunday, investigators removed an RCMP cruiser with a damaged window from the area where de Groot lived.

The 45-year-old was believed to be hiding in the heavily wooded area around the town, but many residents say they believe he has left the area.

Residents return home

Malin Christensson says she and her family finally felt safe enough to return home.

"Well we left the town two nights cause we're pretty close to the scene," she said, "but I'm not scared now. I think he's far away."

Malin Christensson returns home with her family. She says they are happy to be back home and are no longer afraid. (CBC)

Christensson said de Groot is self-reliant and a survivalist, but may be dealing with mental health issues.

"He was a really strong worker and self-reliable, and I honour that. But he probably needed some mental support."

Similar sentiments are being shared on two Facebook sites that have also popped up in his support: a Facebook group, entitled "Peter de Groot support/help in slocan bc" which has 143 members, and a Facebook page with the same name, which has 46 "likes."

"Peter is a good man who just wanted to raise his own animals, but locals wouldn't offer him a place so he was evicted," said one post.

Residents say the back country is dotted with caves, cabins, and abandoned mines, an area of rugged terrain with sheer cliff faces that is difficult to search.

With files from CBC's Meera Bains

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