Arrests made in Ethan Yellowbird homicide investigation
Published Tuesday, January 10, 2012 5:58PM MST
Months after a young life was cut short by a stray bullet, RCMP have laid charges against three youths – and officials believe the attitude of the community is changing when it comes to violent crime in the area.
The RCMP announcement is a big step in the healing process for the family of Ethan Yellowbird, the five-year-old boy who died on July 11, 2011, after a stray bullet pierced the wall of his home in Hobbema, and killed him.
On Tuesday, police announced they had arrested two youths, and were actively searching for a third, in connection to the tragic death.
"The long road will never go away for me, to see my son again," The mother of Ethan Yellowbird said in a statement read by family spokesperson John Crier during a press conference Tuesday. "But I do feel relieved knowing that these individuals have been arrested."
The Chief of the Samson Cree Nation, and grandfather of the shooting victim Marvin Yellowbird also expressed his grief at the loss, but acknowledged the apparent change in attitude of the community.
"We want those responsible to be brought forth to justice, so that all of our families, indeed, all Samson members feel safe," Yellowbird said.
"The days of gangs wreaking havoc in our nation are over."
RCMP credited assistance from the community in the success of their investigation, days after members of the Samson Cree Nation voted in favour of a bylaw that could see convicted gang members and criminals evicted.
Investigators said they believe the accused are affiliated with gangs.
The three youths face several charges, including manslaughter, intentional discharge of a firearm and endangering life.
According to police, two of the youths have been arrested, and made their first court appearances at Wetaskiwin Provincial Court Tuesday morning.
RCMP are still searching for the third youth – officials believe the third youth does not pose a serious risk to the public.
The investigation was lead by the K Division Major Crimes Unit, which is still investigating the murder of Chelsea Yellowbird, who was shot and killed in September.
Chelsea was Ethan Yellowbird's aunt, and was killed in September, in a home next-door to where her nephew was shot.
Officers have not made any arrests in that investigation.
RCMP are asking anyone with information related to the shooting death of Chelsea Yellowbird to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or their local RCMP detachment.
With files from Sonia Sunger