2020-07-29

Hunt continues for man accused of trying to kill Bridgewater cop, stabbing RCMP police dog

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>SOURCE: BRIDGEWATER POLICE SERVICE</p><p>Bridgewater resident, Tobias Charles Doucette, 31, at-large on charges of assault, attempted murder.</p>
  • <p>This emergency alert went out to Lunenburg County residents.</p>
  • <p>SOURCE: RCMP NOVA SCOTIA</p><p>The search area RCMP identified on July 21 at about 7:20 p.m.</p>

Veteran Bridgewater Police Service officer, Sgt. Matt Bennett, knifed in the neck while investigating a domestic dispute July 20 is recovering in hospital after undergoing what police say was a successful surgery in Halifax. Officials weren't specific about his condition, except to say he is stable.

Bennett, a 13-year member of the force, was stabbed at a High Street in hotel in town after the municipal police department was summoned to the west side address at 11 p.m. to deal with a disturbance between a man and woman. The incident was called-in from the hotel's front desk, which reported a woman with a bloody nose was sitting in the lobby.

Bennett sustained the injury inside the hotel, and despite the wounding, managed enough energy to radio for an ambulance, and communicate a warning to officers about a man with a knife on the loose, and call for more officers and a police dog to respond. Two other Bridgewater Police Service officers, Cst. Will Creamer and Cst. Jamie Dearing, were on scene with Bennett. They were not hurt.

The initial report to authorities from dispatch indicated it didn't appear there were any weapons involved in the domestic dispute, according to first responder radio communications obtained by LighthouseNOW.

The suspect charged with assaulting his common-law spouse and trying to kill Bennett, Tobias Charles Doucette, 31, ran away from area and avoided detection . Doucette, described by police as Indigenous, standing 6'2", 220 lbs, with brown hair and green eyes. He was last seen wearing black shorts and sans shoes and shirt. The victim of the domestic assault sustained injuries police considered minor. She was treated and released from hospital. Police said she is no longer at risk and is in a safe place.

Officers from the Bridgewater Police Service and neighbouring Lunenburg district RCMP, in addition to specialized units, initially fanned out around the the southwest end of town to find Doucette. Places subject to a search were the former Dufferin Street golf course, along with backyards off Pine Street, Jubilee Road, Cornwallis Street, and Scotia Street.

Sheds, sports field dugouts and canteen buildings were checked; so was Doucette's cell phone and bank information. Taxi services were contacted to see if he was picked up.

Police issued a news release at about 4 a.m., and later an emergency alert was sent warning local residents of what was transpiring. Some businesses either delayed opening or closed for the day.

With law enforcement continuing its focus on the southwestern end of town, police got a new break in the case, near the lunch-hour on July 21, when it was told a body was in the LaHave River, close to the east side, according to newly obtained radio communications.

The person managed to swim to the west side, get to land near Conquerall Bank, and run into the woods across Highway 331. Police were told Doucette is a survivalist and no stranger to extended excursions in the bush.

At some point during the search, as it extended westerly from Conquerall Bank, Fergus, a seven-year-old German shepherd RCMP police dog, was stabbed in the upper shoulder with a stick as he engaged the suspect, LighthouseNOW learned. He was rushed by police to a Wileville veterinarian clinic for treatment. Fergus' handler wasn't injured.

Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, a spokeswoman for the province's RCMP, couldn't provide a specific condition for Fergus, except to say he's "stable but being closely monitored."

Over the course of several hours, aided by air and land support, law enforcement slogged a track taking them well into the woods bordering communities including Conquerall Bank, Conquerall Mills and Hebbville. Officers continued vehicle patrols on the southwest side of Bridgewater, along Highway 331, Conquerall Road, Conquerall Mills Road, and other routes. Some residents in the area were evacuated in the early evening of July 21.

The search continues July 22 in same vicinity. RCMP assumed command of the search given the last known position of the suspect was in its jurisdiction.

Anyone that witnesses suspicious persons or activities on properties are asked to avoid contact and immediately call police.

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