Nova Scotia

Wanted Meat Cove man now in custody, say RCMP

A northern Cape Breton man is now in custody after evading police for three days. Late Wednesday evening, RCMP Sgt. André Mazerolle confirmed that Perry MacKinnon has "safely been brought into custody."

Perry MacKinnon had fled into the woods of Meat Cove on Monday morning

Family members say Perry MacKinnon has a longstanding history of fleeing the RCMP, which they felt could have hampered efforts to find him. (Submitted by Conley MacKinnon)

A northern Cape Breton man is now in custody after evading police for three days.

Late Wednesday evening, RCMP Sgt. André Mazerolle confirmed that Perry MacKinnon has "safely been brought into custody." RCMP said MacKinnon gave himself up to police in the community.

On Thursday, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Mark Skinner said police recovered a long gun from the woods, and he discounted reports suggesting MacKinnon was cold, wet and hungry when he surrendered.

"The man was in good condition," Skinner said in an interview.

"It appeared the man had found shelter... It did not appear the man was out in the woods for the past 48 hours."

As well, he confirmed that a 49-year-old man from Meat Cove had been arrested for alleged obstruction of justice.

"We believe that the man who was wanted was helped by the second person," Skinner said, noting that no charge had been laid against the alleged accomplice.

Police tried to arrest man on Monday

RCMP officers went to a house in Meat Cove on Monday morning to arrest MacKinnon, but they say he ran into the nearby woods with a firearm.

MacKinnon's cousin, C.J. MacKinnon, who is acting as a family spokesperson, also said he turned himself in.

RCMP say Perry MacKinnon, 34, fled with a firearm into a wooded area in Meat Cove, N.S., on Monday. (RCMP)

"We're happy to see that because that's a much more peaceful resolution, so we're grateful for that," she said. "But I'm saddened because of the amount of wasted resources that went into it."

An emergency alert was issued around 1:30 p.m. Monday, warning residents in the small community that MacKinnon was on the loose.

The RCMP then searched for him on the ground and by air using a plane and a helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging camera. People were advised to stay indoors and wait for updates from police.

C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin has a long history of running from police, but he ultimately turns himself in without incident.

The Edmonton woman and the 34-year-old man were raised together as siblings in St. Margaret Village, N.S., an isolated community located between Capstick and Bay St. Lawrence.

Based on information given to RCMP from the man's girlfriend, MacKinnon's relatives believed he was unarmed. They feared a large-scale operation to arrest MacKinnon would only keep him from coming out of hiding.

Both the family and RCMP were concerned about MacKinnon's health given freezing temperatures, and that he wasn't adequately dressed for the outdoors.

C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin doesn't have any severe injuries, except for the beginning stages of hypothermia.

Wanted on multiple charges

Perry MacKinnon is wanted on multiple warrants for failing to attend court. According to court documents, he faces a variety of charges, including break and enter along with nearly 20 firearms offences. 

The charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred in January 2020 and March 2019. 

In 2008, he was also sentenced to six and a half years in prison for threatening an elderly man at gunpoint during a home invasion in Bay St. Lawrence.

C.J. MacKinnon said her cousin lives in the Meat Cove area and is well-versed in travelling through the backwoods and mountains.

She believes money spent on finding her cousin could instead have been put toward drug rehabilitation, food security and mental health in the community.

'He's made to look bad'

MacKinnon said her family sees Perry as a loving uncle and a beloved brother.

She said the family wanted the matter to be dealt with in a responsible manner. 

"He's made to look bad because of his criminal history, but it's never taken into effect how he got there," she said.

With files from Tom Ayers, Richard Woodbury and the Canadian Press