Search stretches into 2nd day for man accused of assault and stabbing police officer, dog
Tobias Charles Doucette is 6-2, 220 pounds with brown hair and green eyes
A Cape Breton man who allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse and then stabbed a police officer who responded to the call near Bridgewater, N.S., has still not been caught.
Several homes in the area were evacuated on Tuesday night and officers are still searching for Tobias Charles Doucette, who has evaded capture for more than 32 hours.
"The overall goal of this operation is to bring it to a very peaceful resolution. We have negotiators who are able to communicate with Mr. Doucette should he choose that option," RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Doucette is six-foot-two, weighs 220 pounds, has brown hair and green eyes and is from Cape Breton, police said.
In an update Wednesday morning, the Bridgewater Police Service said officers were alerted to a possible sighting of Doucette in the LaHave River around 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Police say they tried to apprehend him, but he fled into the woods off Highway 331 in Conquerall Bank, N.S. It was during this incident that a police dog was stabbed.
"Our police dog and handler were assisting the Bridgewater Police Service yesterday afternoon when they sighted the individual coming out of the river," Clarke said.
"The individual stabbed the police dog with what was believed to be a stick, causing injury to the dog and then he fled the scene, so the focus was then on the dog and getting him to veterinary care."
Clarke said the dog is still being treated and is in stable condition. She said charges will be laid today in relation to the dog's injury. The dog's handler was not injured.
He was last seen near the Conquerall Bank area, according to police.
Hopes for peaceful resolution
Martin Bell, the municipal councillor for the area where police have been looking for Doucette, visited residents on Wednesday to make sure they're doing OK. He said many people have brought up the tragedy in Portapique.
"It's still basically in everybody's memory, so they're hoping that lessons learned will help provide a good outcome," Bell told CBC's Mainstreet Wednesday afternoon.
He said the majority of people he's spoken to appreciate that an emergency alert was issued early Tuesday morning warning that Doucette was on the loose.
"People really feel that our safety is really being taken seriously," he said.
In the tight-knit communities he represents, people know one another by first name, Bell said.
"Most people are hoping that this can end without any injuries to either side. The main thing is people want to be able to feel safe in their community," he said.
The search for Doucette began after officers responded to a domestic violence complaint around 11 p.m. Monday at the Bridgewater Hotel on High Street.
Police say Doucette attacked a police officer, stabbing him in the neck with an edged weapon before fleeing from the hotel.
Doucette was last seen wearing only black shorts with no shirt or shoes.
On Tuesday evening, police evacuated homes in the area around Conquerall Mills Road and Catidian Place Road in the community of Hebbville, on the east side of Fancy Lake.
Officers urged residents to stay inside with their doors locked unless the Bridgewater Police or RCMP came to the door.
RCMP also began stopping vehicles going both directions near the Hubbards exit on Highway 103 on Tuesday night to look for the suspect. Those stops continued on Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday, the Department of National Defence agreed to help police in the area search for Doucette, according to a tweet from Bill Blair, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.
Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens of Joint Task Force Atlantic said one aircraft was launched Wednesday to help with the search between midnight and 4 a.m.
Owens said the task force is available for additional tasks, but hasn't received a request from police. The only request so far has been for aerial surveillance, he said.
"We're just one small player in the overall search," Owens said.
Police said on Tuesday they were using the Bridgewater Police Service's canine team, help from the Halifax Regional Police's canine squad, RCMP members and two helicopters in the search.
Clarke said Wednesday the search for Doucette would last as long as necessary. She confirmed later on Wednesday the search would continue into the night.
2 people injured
Doucette's common-law partner had minor injuries and was treated and released from hospital into "a safe location," police said on Tuesday.
The officer, Sgt. Matthew Bennett of the Bridgewater Police Service, sustained serious injuries from the stabbing but underwent a "successful surgery" and is currently recovering in hospital.
Doucette faces a charge of assault on his partner and attempted murder of a Bridgewater police officer.
With files from Emma Davie and CBC's Mainstreet Halifax