British Columbia

Shots fired on Vancouver Island over alleged illegal clam digging

Charges have been laid in connection with an alleged illegal clam digging operation on Vancouver Island that turned violent Friday.

Police say one man — Robert Wayne Guerin — has been charged in relation to the incident

Police say one person has been charged with careless use of a firearm in relation to an alleged illegal clam digging operation near the Chemainus River on Friday. ( Janine Gallant)

Charges have been laid in connection with an alleged illegal clam digging operation on Vancouver Island that turned violent Friday. 

North Cowichan RCMP officers say they were called in after Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers reported shots fired at around 4:30 p.m. PT.

The officers were patrolling a beach near the Chemainus River when they caught three people allegedly digging clams illegally.

"I am very proud of our members' response to this incident," said Insp. Ray Carfantan with North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.  

"Within minutes the three officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada were safely extracted from the scene."

RCMP Spokesperson Krista Hobday said the incident sparked a search for two other suspects who fled into the woods.

Tom Hlavac, acting director of the DFO's Conservation and Protection program, said officers often encounter resistance to enforcement.

"This is relatively unique for it to escalate to this point. It's quite disturbing," he said.

Robert Wayne Guerin, 49, has been charged with careless use of a firearm and unauthorized possession of a weapon in relation to the incident.

Police say the other suspect turned himself in and has been released pending further investigation.

No one was injured. 

With files from Liz McArthur