Homeowner and trespassing suspect charged following shooting incident near Okotoks
Two men face charges in connection with a Saturday morning incident on a rural property near Okotoks where one of the men suffered a gunshot wound.
According to RCMP, officers responded to the rural residence at approximately 5:30 a.m. Saturday, February 24, following reports shots had been fired.
RCMP say the owner of the property found two people rummaging through his vehicles and a confrontation occurred. Shots were fired and the two suspects fled the area.
One man arrived in hospital a short time later for treatment of a non-life threatening injury to his arm.
RCMP arrested the property owner and the man with the arm injury. The second suspect has not been located.
Edouard Maurice, the 33-year-old homeowner, has been charged with:
- Aggravated assault
- Pointing a firearm
- Careless use of a firearm
Maurice is scheduled to appear in Okotoks Provincial Court on Friday, March 9.
Ryan Watson, the 41-year-old trespassing suspect who resides in Calgary, faces charges of:
- Trespassing by night
- Mischief to property
- Theft under $5,000 from motor vehicle
- Possession of methamphetamine
- Failure to comply
Watson made an appearance in court on Monday.
RCMP members continue their investigation into the matter and their search for the second suspect. Anyone having information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Okotoks RCMP detachment at 403-995-6400 or anonymous tips may be submitted to Crime Stoppers.
Sharon Polsky, director of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, says there are limitiations to the measures property owners may take to protect their possessions.
“In Canada, we, surprisingly, have very few rights to protect our things," explained Polsky. "We have some rights to protect ourselves and our family but not our stuff so if somebody’s coming on to your property and vandalizing you things, we really have the right to use as much force as is reasonable in the circumstances which typically does not involve firearms and the criminal code addresses that.”
"If you are going to watch as your property is vandalized or stolen, you call 911 and hope that the police will respond and do more than just say call in a report because they don’t really have the manpower. It’s a symptom of a systemic problem in Canada.”
Polsky says there is a huge sense of frustration amongst rural residents who feel they face a no-win scenario when someone enters their property. “Every time there is another case of an intrusion, of property theft, of vandalism, of trespassing on rural properties, it again raises the ire of people who don’t have the police coverage we’ve been told we should be able to expect."
Polsky recommends taking high quality photographs of intruders and suspect vehicles to ensure there is significant evidence for a police report but she encourages all frustrated property owners to notify their elected officials of their concerns.
“It’s a matter of Canadians understanding what their rights are, what their rights aren’t and reaching out to their elected members of the Legislature, provincial and federal, and voice your concerns and what you want and what you don’t want. Otherwise, they will take that as acceptance of whatever they choose to do on our behalf.”
With files from CTV's Alesia Fieldberg