Manitoba

Manitoba RCMP wary after learning father of fugitive Eric Wildman shot a Mountie in 1962

The late father of the subject of a Manitoba manhunt shot a police officer in his youth, something RCMP say they're taking into consideration as they search for the homicide suspect.

'Allan [Wildman's] early years were ones of rebellion and defying authority': obituary

RCMP search the Wildman property, near the community of Stead, about 70 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Police say they're aware Eric Wildman's father had shot a Mountie nearly 60 years ago. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The late father of the subject of a Manitoba manhunt shot a police officer in his youth, something RCMP say they're taking into consideration as they search for the homicide suspect.

Manitoba RCMP are searching for Eric Wildman, 34, who is wanted in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of his neighbour Clifford Joseph. He's also presumed to be armed and dangerous.

Wildman's father, Allan Wildman, had a criminal background before turning his life around going back to school.

In 1962, Allan shot a Virden, Man. RCMP officer named Tony Cooper in the back during a police chase, according to a news article by the Virden Empire Advance from 2017.

Cooper survived the bullet, which came close to his spine, and made a full recovery, the article says.

Eric Paul Wildman is described as 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, with blue eyes. The public is urged to not approach him as he's considered armed and dangerous. (Submitted by RCMP)

Allan, who was 14 at the time, had a troubled past, the article says. He and his sisters had been given up for adoption by parents who couldn't raise them and wound up in a dysfunctional home.

His criminal activity began when he was 12, and he spent time in prison for it.

Allan Wildman died on Dec. 29, 2017, at the age of 70, leaving behind a daughter and a son, according to his obituary.

"Born in Ontario, Allan's early years were ones of rebellion and defying authority," the obituary says, adding that he eventually used those experiences to inform his social work career.

Cooper posted a comment in the online obituary, forgiving Allan for the shooting.

"Back in March 1962, we had an encounter near the Saskatchewan border. All has been forgiven and he is to be remembered for changing his life around. Well done, Allan," he wrote.

Cooper indicated in his comment that he had met up with Allan at Carleton University in Ottawa, where Allan was a student, 14 years after the shooting.

Sgt. Laura LeDrew with the Manitoba RCMP's major crimes services says her team is aware of the 1962 shooting and are keeping it in the back of their minds as they pursue Eric Wildman.

"It just keeps us vigilant to that thought process of perhaps where Mr. Wildman's at right now. It's one of those factors that is something that we're happy to at least be aware of," she said.

'Twists and turns' in investigation

RCMP are asking for the public's help to locate  Wildman.

He was named as a suspect in Joseph's disappearance on June 12, a day after locating his abandoned vehicle in Winnipeg's East Kildonan neighbourhood.

Police found guns, police tactical equipment, police patches and other items resembling police clothing in Eric's vehicle.

An arrest warrant was issued for him on Monday, and on Tuesday multiple officers searched his property in Stead in the rural municipality of St. Clements.

Guns and ammunition were found in Eric Wildman's abandoned vehicle. (Manitoba RCMP)

The search included a field of burned vehicles on the property, as well as the rubble of a former residence where only the brick chimney is still standing.

RCMP say the home burned down in May, but there is nothing at the moment to suggest it is linked to the current investigation.

"It's twists and turns. You start off with an investigation in one direction and it blows up into something of this nature where now we're, for lack of a better term, in a manhunt for a person who we believe is responsible," LeDrew says.

"Being aware of all of these factors … definitely keeps us going in different directions and our heads are in a swivel."

Anyone who sees Eric Wildman is asked to call 911 or the RCMP tip line at 431-489-8551, but to not approach him as he's considered armed and dangerous.

With files from Holly Caruk

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