British Columbia

Accused Saskatchewan killer found dead after B.C. manhunt

The suspect in a recent Saskatchewan homicide and the shooting of an RCMP officer in British Columbia was found dead near Revelstoke, B.C., after an extensive search.

Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, 40, was wanted for murder in Saskatchewan

Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, 40, has been found dead by police near Revelstoke, B.C., according to RCMP. (RCMP)

The suspect in a recent Saskatchewan homicide and the shooting of an RCMP officer in British Columbia was found dead today near Revelstoke, B.C., following an extensive manhunt that shut down the Trans-Canada Highway for  several hours.

"The deceased was located within the identified search area east of Revelstoke. The area will remain closed to allow for a full evidentiary search to be completed," said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk in a statement. 

Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, 40, had been charged with first-degree murder and several other charges after a woman was found dead Monday night in a home on Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan.

Shawna Oochoo snapped this photo of an abandoned Saskatchewan van on the highway near Revelstoke, B.C. It is believed to be connected to Sheldon Thunderblanket. (Submitted by Shawna Oochoo)

On Tuesday afternoon, a gunman opened fire on a female officer at a traffic stop on the Trans-Canada Highway near Golden, B.C.

Police said the man refused to follow orders and fired at the officer before stealing another vehicle at gunpoint and fleeing, prompting police to close the Trans-Canada Highway between Golden and Revelstoke.

The officer was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to her arm. The injury is not life-threatening.

On Wednesday morning, police confirmed that Thunderblanket was the suspect in the shooting near Golden.

Thunderblanket's status was unknown for much of Wednesday. The City of Revelstoke put out a statement in the early morning saying he had been located, and at mid-afternoon Mayor Mark McKee told CBC News he had been apprehended.  

RCMP acknowledged the delay in providing information on the case, but said it was necessary "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."

Late Wednesday, the Independent Investigations Office, which provides civilian oversight of serious incidents involving police-related death or injuries, revealed that a further interaction later occurred between police and Thunderblanket near Revelstoke. The office said Thunderblanket fled from police.

The agency said it will now investigate whether there is any connection between Thunderblanket's death and the actions of police. 

Trans-Canada Highway partially reopened

The search for Thunderblanket sparked a massive manhunt and the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.

Early Wednesday, the DriveBC website said a section of the road between Revelstoke and Golden was open to single-lane alternating traffic.

Traffic was stopped just west of Golden, B.C., on Tuesday after an RCMP officer was shot. (Dennis Bil/Twitter)

The situation was different overnight Tuesday for hundreds of drivers caught in the police roadblock. RCMP were only letting small batches of traffic move eastbound overnight, meaning hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night in their vehicles.

One woman called CBC to say she and others were stuck for almost 12 hours on the highway with no information from officials about what they should do.

"We waited 11 hours before the first person ever came — and we were five from the front — before the first person ever came to give us any update on whether we should stay or go," she said.

"We were cold. Our cellphones had run out. Our gas — we had to keep turning [the vehicle] on and off to keep ourselves heated. No food. No water. No nothing.

"All these police road crews there, and nobody would give us nothing. There were hundreds of cars backed up and not a word was said to us."

She said she and her companions eventually returned to Golden and spent the rest of the night in the car outside the only gas station that was open, because all the hotels were already full.

With files from Bal Brach and Jaimie Kehler