Alerts lifted, no weapon found, 1 man arrested, many questions after OPP manhunt

Ontario Provincial Police have one man in custody and say the search has ended for two other men who were cited in an emergency alert as being armed and dangerous.

2 other suspects no longer sought in connection with incident, OPP say

A police vehicle outside a rink in winter.
Police vehicles sit outside the Beckwith Recreation Centre southwest of Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Earlier, OPP asked residents in the area to stay indoors and lock doors and windows. (Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada)

Ontario Provincial Police have one man in custody and say the search has ended for two other men who were cited in an emergency alert as being armed and dangerous.

The early Friday afternoon alert stated OPP officers in Lanark County were investigating two armed suspects believed to be at large in the Sharbot Lake and Lanark County areas west of Ottawa. 

People in the community of Sharbot Lake and Lanark County were urged to shelter in place, lock all their doors and windows and call 911 if they noticed anyone suspicious.

An emergency alert issued on Feb. 10, 2023.

The OPP had earlier sent out a similar warning to residents in Beckwith, a township in Lanark County located 53 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, via social media. 

The two men's photos and descriptions, along with their names, were later shared by the OPP on social media. 

By late afternoon, however, the situation had changed. 

Different man arrested and charged 

The OPP said via email the search for the two men was over and that, after an extensive search, no weapon was found. 

Media were asked to no longer use the men's photos after all alerts, which police said were issued "out of abundance of caution and concern for public safety," were lifted. 

Meanwhile, the OPP said they had arrested a different man and charged him with a number of offences, including:

  • Dangerous operation of a vehicle
  • Flight from a peace officer.
  • Operation of a vehicle while prohibited and
  • Possession of stolen property obtained by crime. 

Incident began with alleged stolen vehicle

The OPP said the incident started when someone reported two people were armed with a handgun near an arena in Beckwith.

OPP officers followed a fleeing stolen vehicle that was stopped in the area of Smiths Falls, 24 kilometres further south.

The third person was arrested there. 

Four police vehicles park on a snowy road.
Ontario Provincial Police work around Beckwith Park in Carleton Place, Ont., Feb. 10, 2023. The OPP had sent out an emergency alert about two armed men in the area. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Details murky about 2 other men

How or if the other two men were involved in the incident remains unclear.

The OPP did not answer CBC questions about the men's potential involvement, whether they had been located by police, why the men's information was posted online and whether they may face charges.

"All other information sent out today was based on the investigation as it was unfolding," an OPP spokesperson said via email. 

'Big' police presence

Beckwith Township Reeve Richard Kidd said police had deployed drones and a helicopter to search the park near the Beckwith Recreation Centre, while canine units searched inside the building.

"We're not used to that big of a police presence," Kidd said. "It gave comfort how quickly they could arrive and how quickly they could get their job done."

Kidd added the door of the municipal office was locked for the safety of staff.

WATCH | Reeve says police presence unusual yet comforting

'Huge' police presence in Beckwith unusual but brought comfort, reeve says

8 months ago
Duration 1:10
Beckwith Township Reeve Richard Kidd said there wasn't a big panic in the community as police searched for suspects they described at the time as armed and dangerous.

Sharbot Lake, one of the two areas cited in the emergency alert, falls within the county of Frontenac.

Mayor Frances Smith told CBC by phone she locked herself and her two grandsons in her home and the township closed its office.

Scott Robinson, a resident of Carleton Place, located five kilometres north of Beckwith, was among those who received the emergency alert. 

Generally such alerts have no bearing on his life, he said, but his son was at home at the time. 

"He locked the house down," he said. "He was maybe a little anxious. But nothing over the top." 

WATCH | Residents on alert 

Beckwith, Carleton Place residents recount their reactions to emergency alert

8 months ago
Duration 0:54
Outside the Beckwith Recreation Centre where earlier, police asked residents in the area to stay indoors and lock doors and windows, Scott Robinson and Michel Smith recounted how they initially heard about the incident.

With files from Andrew Foote, Kristy Nease, Joe Tunney, Dan Taekema and Guy Quenneville