Stolen RCMP gun used in 'senseless' Winnipeg shooting that injured girl
Shooting injured 16-year-old in convenience store parking lot on Autumnwood Drive
Two Winnipeg men are in custody after a firearm stolen from an off-duty RCMP officer's vehicle was used in a shooting that seriously injured a 16-year-old girl outside a Windsor Park convenience store.
"When I found out this happened it felt like my whole world came crashing down," said Colin Seguin, one of the victim's friends. "My heart just dropped to the ground."
A 22-year-old man has been charged with two counts of attempted murder as well as theft under $5,000, mischief under $5,000 and a number of weapons-related charges, police announced Monday.
A 25-year-old man faces numerous firearms-related charges and two counts of theft under $5,000.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, deputy chief Danny Smyth called the accused men's alleged actions "senseless and reckless."
"I'm certainly satisfied that we sort of restored public safety with the arrest and detention of these individuals, and they'll certainly be held accountable through our justice system," he said.
The shooting took place in the parking lot of the Mac's convenience store at Autumnwood Drive and Winakwa Road around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, not long after the firearm was stolen.
Smyth said the marked RCMP vehicle, which was parked outside the officer's home in the southeast corner of the city, was broken into late Friday night.
"Police believe the two accused unlawfully entered the vehicle and stole several items, including the firearm from the off-duty officer."
Other stolen items included camera gear and "some police-related equipment" that would have been on the officer's service belt, Smyth said.
A short while later, two men went to the convenience store and an argument erupted between them and a group of youth in a parked car.
Girl shot in upper body
Police said the argument escalated and one of the men produced the firearm and shot at the vehicle, striking the teenage girl inside. The suspects fled the scene immediately afterwards.
Seguin said he cannot believe someone would aim a gun into a car and fire.
"How can someone be so heartless and just so cruel towards one another. How can life be so meaningless. It's just terrible," he said.
Smyth told reporters the teen was shot in the upper body.
You know what she told me? She was like, "I'm still alive!"- Colin Seguin , friend of victim
"She sustained critical injuries but is expected to survive. Her parents have been notified and, of course, they're with her."
Investigators do not believe the girl who was injured was the intended target, Smyth said. He added that there is no indication that the groups knew each other.
Police did not release the teen's name but Smyth expressed the force's "sincerest hopes for a complete recovery."
Seguin said he is hoping to visit her in hospital and learned that the bullet came very close to her heart.
"I've been told she's doing better than she was before," said Seguin. "You know what she told me? She was like, 'I'm still alive!'" he told CBC News.
"Our friendship is really special to me," Seguin said, adding they spend time together on a daily basis.
"When I'm not with her I feel like I'm lost. It's just really heartbreaking that she's in this condition and this had to happened to her."
Man arrested after east Elmwood standoff
The 22-year-old man was arrested in the city's North End later in the weekend, while the 25-year-old was arrested following an armed standoff with police at a housing complex in the 300 block of Keenleyside Street early Sunday morning.
The stolen RCMP firearm was later recovered from the home, police said.
Seguin said he was told the men flashed gang signs before the shooting happened.
Investigators believe the accused men have gang connections, Smyth said, but there is no information linking anyone inside the car to gang activity, he added.
The police investigation continues.
Questions about RCMP gun storage unanswered
Smyth referred questions about the storage of Mounties' firearms to the RCMP.
A Manitoba RCMP spokesperson refused to comment on the police force's policy related to the storage of members' firearms.
"As this theft and subsequent shooting occurred in the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Police Service is the lead agency for all aspects of the investigation. The RCMP thanks the WPS for their diligent efforts in quickly tracking and securing the firearm that was stolen from a marked RCMP police vehicle," the spokesperson told CBC News in an email.
"As the WPS investigation into the matter is ongoing, no further information can be provided at this time."
There was similar incident in Halifax after a service pistol and ammunition were stolen from a vehicle of an off-duty RCMP officer in March 2015.
At the time, RCMP told CBC in Halifax that there are policies surrounding the storage of firearms in vehicles, and that pistols must be unloaded and locked in a storage box.
The RCMP's website does contain information for the general public on safely storing, transporting and displaying firearms.