Nova Scotia

Bridgewater search continues for man accused of stabbing police officer and dog

Police in Bridgewater, N.S., say they are pursuing a man who allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse and then stabbed an officer who was responding to the call late Monday night. The RCMP also say a police dog was also stabbed by the accused.

RCMP evacuated homes in an area south of the Nova Scotia town

Tobias Charles Doucette was last seen in black shorts, with no shirt or shoes. (Submitted by Bridgewater Police Service)

Several homes in the Bridgewater, N.S. area were evacuated Tuesday night as police continued pursuing a man who allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse and then stabbed an officer who was responding to the call.

The Bridgewater Police Service has identified the suspect as Tobias Charles Doucette. They said Doucette is 6'2, weighs 220 pounds and has brown hair and green eyes.

Doucette evaded police for more than 24 hours as the search stretched overnight Tuesday.

Around 7:15 p.m., Nova Scotia RCMP had tweeted about a heavy police presence south of the town around Conquerall Mills Road and Catidian Place Road in the community of Hebbville, on the east side of Fancy Lake.

They said police were evacuating some homes in the area, and urged local residents to remain inside with their doors locked unless the RCMP or Bridgewater Police came to speak with them.

They said Doucette may be armed with a knife, and confirmed he had also stabbed a police dog. 

In responding to a question about the dog's injuries on Twitter, the RCMP said he was "being treated" and they would have an update on his condition Wednesday morning.

Also on Tuesday night, RCMP were stopping vehicles in both directions near the Hubbards exit on Highway 103 to check for the suspect.

In a tweet just before 10 p.m., RCMP said they had no more updates to share, and reminded people in the area to remain inside with their doors locked. 

Bridgewater resident, Caroll Young, watched about 25 cars zip past the end of his street, followed by more official police vehicles all day as the search continued.

 At one point, he said police knocked on their door to remind his family to stay inside.

Nova Scotia RCMP officers were in Hebbville, N.S. just south of Bridgewater on July 21, 2020 helping in the search for Tobias Doucette and evacuating some homes. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

"I feel confident that we're safe here, but with night coming on we'll take a little extra security," Young said.

A person could easily get lost in the wooded area south of the town where searchers were active, Young noted, which is why he thought Doucette would likely need to stick close to a river or roadways.

Earlier in the day, just before 2 p.m., police said they were in pursuit of Doucette between Highway 331 and Conquerall Mills Road, south of Pine Street in a wooded area on the southern edge of town.

An update around 3 p.m. said that police were continuing to track Doucette with the use of the town force's canine team and help from the Halifax Regional Police's canine squad, RCMP members, and a helicopter from the Department of Lands and Forestry.

At 5:20 p.m., police said the search was continuing and an RCMP helicopter had also joined.

When Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell got the emergency alert early Tuesday morning, he assumed it would be about another community.

"And then shock, of course, when I see the words Bridgewater at the top," he said.

But Mitchell said his level of worry "has gone down dramatically" knowing the town's police force has deployed all of their resources and is getting assistance from other police forces.

RCMP joined local police in Bridgewater to search for the suspect Tuesday morning. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

In a year when Nova Scotia has suffered so much after the Portapique shooting and other tragedies, Mitchell said "it seems like everything's piling on our poor province" during the pandemic.

He added residents should feel free to go about their day if they feel comfortable doing so, but they should pay attention to any alerts and be diligent.

Mayor applauds decision to issue emergency alert

During the Portapique shooting where a gunman killed 22 people over 13 hours and a span of 150 kilometres, the RCMP​​​​​​ ​did not ask the province to issue any emergency alerts and were criticized heavily for not doing that.

Coming out of that incident, Mitchell said everyone probably learned to err on the side of caution.

"It was reassuring that the public is now fully aware of what's going on," he said.

An alert earlier had also said the man was last seen in wooded areas and backyards near the southern edge of town around 1 a.m.

There was also an alert sent out around 5 a.m. Tuesday, where police advised people in the general area to stay inside and call the police if they saw anyone or anything suspicious.

Police say the suspect fled the Bridgewater Hotel on foot. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Police said they were called to a domestic violence complaint around 11 p.m. Monday at the Bridgewater Hotel on High Street. When officers arrived, Doucette attacked an officer with an edged weapon, stabbing the officer in the neck, according to police. 

He then ran away, wearing black shorts and no shirt or shoes.He faces a charge of assault on his partner and attempted murder of a Bridgewater police sergeant.

Police said Doucette's partner had minor injuries and was treated and released from hospital into "a safe location."

The officer who was stabbed sustained serious injuries and underwent surgery in Halifax.

With files from Héloise Rodriguez-Qizilbash