Nova Scotia

Police arrest Bridgewater fugitive after days-long search

Police say they've arrested a man accused of trying to kill a police officer by stabbing him in the neck, bringing a days-long manhunt to an end. Tobias Doucette was arrested by police early Sunday morning.

Witnesses say Tobias Doucette tried to steal a truck Saturday night before his arrest

Police spent several days searching for a man wanted for assault and attempted murder after an incident at the Bridgewater Hotel Monday night. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The man who led police on a days-long manhunt was arrested just outside Bridgewater after attempting to steal a car on Saturday night, police said.

Police had been searching for Tobias Doucette for five days, since the incident at a hotel in Bridgewater, N.S., on Monday.

Margaret and Greg Bolivar were having a backyard gathering at their Hebbville home on Saturday evening when they heard a crash.

Margaret (left) and Greg Bolivar speak with media at their home in Hebbville on July 26, 2020. The couple had called 911 on Saturday after seeing Tobias Doucette in a truck across the street. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

"I thought 'that didn't sound good,'" Margaret said Sunday afternoon outside the couple's house on Highway 3 near Crossing Road.

Greg went to check and saw a truck with a plow on the front repeatedly ramming a steel gate from inside Gerhardt Fleet Tech Services across the street.

He told Margaret to come look and they both agreed something was wrong since workers would have had keys to unlock the gate.

"I just felt that this is not right and I have to report it," Margaret said.

The truck that Tobias Doucette was seen attempting to steal in Hebbville on July 25, 2020 shortly before he was arrested. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

She then saw a man park the truck, get out and start walking away from the area. While her first thought was it must be Doucette, Margaret said she second-guessed herself because the man was wearing a ball hat and a navy sweater while police had said Doucette was only wearing a pair of shorts.

Although Margaret said she made eye contact with the man, she wasn't worried at any point.

"As it went on, I started to feel sorry for him in a sense," she said.

Greg also said Doucette looked "terribly scared" when he saw him behind the wheel.

Police searched for Tobias Doucette for five days following an incident at a local hotel that ended with an officer being stabbed. 3:07

A few minutes after calling 911, Margaret said a huge number of police, an RCMP emergency response team, a helicopter and police dog units descended on the area.

She pointed out where the man had gone, and they waited for the next few hours until they heard police say Doucette had been arrested. Margaret called it "a relief."

But all week, Margaret said she couldn't shake a feeling that she would spot Doucette. There are so many spots to hide among in Gerhardt's lot, she said, while nearby Indian Garden Farms would be a good place to find food.

"In my heart of hearts, I really was not surprised that it ended up where it did," she said.

Arrest made shortly before 1 a.m.

In a release, the Bridgewater Police Service said that Lunenburg RCMP got a call about an attempted theft of a vehicle in Hebbville, N.S. around 9 p.m. on Saturday.

The Mounties and Bridgewater police set up a perimeter to allow the RCMP emergency response team to search the area for Doucette.

After a search through a wooded area in Hebbville just south of Bridgewater, Doucette was found and arrested without incident.

Cpl. Lisa Croteau, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP, said the emergency response team arrested Doucette at 12:50 a.m., 20 minutes after RCMP air services found a heat signal in the area. The Mounties tweeted about his arrest shortly after 1 a.m.

Croteau could not say exactly how many officers were in the area helping with the search, but there were a total of 18 police vehicles with officers from the RCMP and Bridgewater police.

"I feel like Bridgewater, and probably the surrounding area, is breathing again," said David Mitchell, the town's mayor.

David Mitchell is Bridgewater's mayor. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

Mitchell said he got a text from the town's chief of police around 1 a.m. Sunday saying Doucette had been taken into custody.

Having a peaceful end to the long search was vital, Mitchell said, and he is "glad for everyone involved" that the situation ended the way it did.

"You have to remember he's a person. He's somebody's son, he's somebody father, brother, so you don't want anyone else hurt," Mitchell said.

The whole experience was a "roller-coaster" for people in the area, Mitchell said, as the police's focus moved back and forth from inside the town limits to more rural areas with various sightings.

He added that although he's aware many residents hoped for more specific updates in the lengthy search, with an active police investigation "you can't always give as much detail."

Search lasted 6 days

Area residents were first alerted to the search for Doucette around 5 a.m. Tuesday, when an emergency alert was sent out via the provincial system.

Mitchell said some people in the Hebbville area were displaced during the manhunt and it may take time to process that. He said he hopes people will "seek some help or call somebody" if they feel traumatized by events in the area.

In light of the whole search stemming from a domestic violence call, Mitchell said it's clear that more supports must be in place, not just for victims, but for those struggling with mental health challenges or other issues causing them to "feel like they need to lash out."

Police in Bridgewater are shown during the search for a suspect in a domestic assault and the stabbing of a police officer. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Police say Doucette was not injured in the arrest, but was assessed by paramedics while in custody "for his well-being."

They also said he wasn't carrying any weapons.

The investigation is ongoing, and Doucette is expected to appear in Bridgewater court Monday.

He was wanted on a charge of attempted murder, and was also charged with assault on his common-law partner. Police have said Doucette is from Cape Breton but was living in Bridgewater.

Doucette is also accused of stabbing an RCMP dog that was pursuing him at one point.

Croteau said it's a joint investigation between Bridgewater police and RCMP and Doucette is now facing additional charges on top of assault and attempted murder.

They include aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, injuring a law enforcement animal, mischief, theft of a motor vehicle, and two counts of possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes.

Bridgewater police Sgt. Matthew Bennett, who was injured in Monday's incident, is recovering following surgery. Doucette's common-law partner was treated for minor injuries sustained in the same incident.

The police dog, Fergus, is also recovering.

With files from Stephanie Blanchet and Brooklyn Currie

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