Why were schools in Niverville allowed to open Wednesday morning and how did a suspect manage to flee the province while being closely pursued by police? Those are just two of the questions that people have been asking since learning of the fatal shooting that happened early Wednesday morning in the Niverville area.

On Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Rob Lasson, Acting Criminal Operations Officer for Manitoba RCMP, answered those questions and more after RCMP provided more details from Wednesday's incident.

Lasson says on Tuesday at approximately 8 pm, Manitoba RCMP received notification from Saskatchewan RCMP regarding a stolen vehicle that was originally stolen from Cypress River, Manitoba on May 22nd. Lasson says RCMP in Saskatchewan had seen the vehicle near Carlyle and it was believed the vehicle may be headed back to Manitoba. Lasson says it was also believed by police that there could be a firearm in the vehicle, which heightened their awareness.

Lasson says the vehicle was located eastbound on Highway 2 in Manitoba and then near Oak Bluff. He says advisories were sent to RCMP detachments as well as Winnipeg Police Service.

Then on Wednesday at approximately 1:20 am, RCMP were asked to assist the Winnipeg Police Service as they had located the suspect vehicle and were following it into the RCMP jurisdiction, south of Winnipeg.

RCMP will not speak to the officer-involved shooting incident as that part of the investigation is the purview of the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba.


SteinbachOnline.com: Why were schools allowed to open in the area and why was no public alert sent out if there was still a suspect at large?

RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson:  We did engage our communication department with the RCMP right at the onset of this, in fact, early, early in the morning when we were first notified by the Winnipeg Police Service and what had happened. So we did do an initial broadcast out, saying there was a heavy police presence in the area and for people to not attend the area. And then as the investigation progressed and events progressed, we did send another notification that the person had fled police in an unknown vehicle. In regards to the Alert Ready, we take that very serious as police agencies in Manitoba. Activating an emergency alert is taken very seriously and it has certain criteria on its rollout. The requirement is based on an ongoing risk assessment under varying circumstances. And we always have to remember that sometimes broadcasting an alert can also update the suspect on police techniques. So we have to balance public risk with our ability to apprehend the suspect. In this case there was no immediate ongoing threat to violence by the suspect. And what I can say is it is very important that I can confidently say that the RCMP were tracking this individual and were monitoring his actions as he moved across Manitoba, into Saskatchewan. We were working with Saskatchewan and funnelling resources into an area that we could safely arrest the individual, which we did safely without any public harm. So very successful operation in that regard.

SteinbachOnline.com: How could David Burling make it out of Niverville and into Saskatchewan with such a heavy police presence in the area?

RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson: There are certain things, we can have as many resources as possible, in an area, even a helicopter. But currently now with technology and cell phones, suspects can engage friends, family, and partners to help them in escape routes and supplying vehicles and things like that. So, technology is something that we continually are challenged with because criminals are becoming more sophisticated. So, we as police organizations need to continually match technology and training and things like that to keep up with that. So not every incident is the same. We always like to de-escalate a situation and take control and stop it at the first onset. But in this case, it evolved a little bit further.

SteinbachOnline.com: We have heard that there were firearms discharged in Otterburne. Were there shots also fired in Niverville?

RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson: I can't speak to that any further than what's been released. As everyone's been aware, the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba is looking into the specifics of the use of force, which is under investigation. And I cannot say anything as it might compromise or influence that investigation.

SteinbachOnline.com: What are you able to tell us about the two women that were arrested? Was either one of them a hostage?

RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson: No, they weren't hostages. We have no indication to believe that they were kidnapped or held hostage by Burling. They were definitely associates, friends, in relationships with Burling at the time. But that's all I can comment on right now.

SteinbachOnline.com: Is there anything else you are able to say regarding this incident:

RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson: I think the big thing here is I'd like to say that I want to say thank you to all the public support and the positive comments we received following the incident. As everybody knows, this is not easy for any police officer to be involved in. So we really appreciate the community support. And I also want to acknowledge that this demonstrates our ongoing partnership and our ability to work effectively with Winnipeg Police Service and also across the country. The RCMP has the ability to quickly network and integrate with Saskatchewan RCMP as well. It's all a good thing for the overall public safety for our province.