REGINA – Three accused killers and a man facing serious assault charges are among five escaped convicts who remain on the loose after breaking out of the Regina Correctional Centre on Sunday night.
Between them, the five escapees are facing charges in a number of high-profile slayings and violent incidents in Saskatchewan, including a mass shooting last fall and a multiple stabbing last summer.
At a hastily assembled news conference Monday, RCMP officials said the five escaped inmates are presumed to be “dangerous and possibly armed.”
Police said Ryan John Agecoutay, 25, Preston Clarence Buffalocalf, 22, James Joseph Pewean, 25, Daniel Richard Wolfe, 32, and Cody Dillon Keenatch, 19, escaped from the jail around 9:45 p.m. on Sunday night and that their whereabouts remain unknown.
A sixth escapee was arrested on the eastern outskirts of Regina late Sunday night. His name is not yet being released by RCMP.
Pewean, Wolfe and Buffalocalf are all facing murder charges, and Agecoutay is awaiting trial for aggravated assault. There is no public record of an adult criminal record for Keenatch.
All of the men have previously been associated with street gangs or incidents which were believed to be gang-related.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Doug Coleman said officers were taking steps to ensure any potential victims or witnesses in the men’s unresolved criminal cases were aware of the suspects’ escape.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the five escapees, and Coleman said the RCMP in neighbouring provinces have been contacted while officers in Saskatchewan continue to scour the province for the men.
“I mean if this happened last night and (the Trans-Canada Highway) is right there, we’ve got a pretty big country. They could be just about anywhere,” Coleman said, when asked where the men could be.
Questioned on why it took the RCMP about 15 hours to notify the public that five potentially dangerous inmates were on the loose, Coleman said it took time to confirm who had escaped and assemble the information for the media.
Later in the day, Saskatchewan Corrections, Public Safety and Policing Minister Darryl Hickie said he was concerned the public wasn’t made aware of the prisoners’ escape earlier. He said government policy is being changed to ensure people are informed faster.
“We’re going to look at doing notification to media outlets and the public because Corrections, Public Safety and Policing has an obligation to let people know – just the basic information that we’ve had an escape, numbers of escapees, level of danger to the public safety. I think that’s very paramount,” said Hickie, a former police officer and corrections worker.
Tammy Kirkland, executive director of Adult Corrections, wouldn’t confirm or deny that a shot was fired around the time of the escape, but said no staff or inmates were injured.
The jail was in lockdown after the incident.
Kirkland would not elaborate on how the men were able to escape from the facility and said Corrections officials are doing an internal investigation.
The RCMP said members of the public should not approach the escaped inmates but should call their local police service immediately. Anyone with information about the men can also call the RCMP in Regina at 1-306-780-5560, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted online at http://www.saskcrimestoppers.com.
With files from Angela Hall
A list of the offences with which four of the five escapees are charged:
. Pewean was one of seven people charged with second-degree murder in the death of Wilton Jay Lavallee, whose body was found inside a Regina house in June 2007. Pewean was also charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in relation to two male teenagers who were injured during the same incident. Pewean had been expected to plead guilty as part of a plea agreement last month, but the matter didn’t proceed as planned. The case had been slated to come up at the Regina Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday.
. Wolfe is facing two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder for a September shooting at a home in Fort Qu’Appelle. The RCMP has previously said more than 20 rounds of ammunition were fired inside the small house where the incident occurred, possibly sparked by a minor verbal altercation earlier in the day. A teenage male is also charged in the shooting, which killed Marvin Arnault and Michael Itittakoose.
. Buffalocalf is one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Vincent Morrisseau-Poorman, who was found lying outside a house in Fort Qu’Appelle in February 2007, suffering from a fatal gunshot wound. Fort Qu’Appelle is located just outside Regina. Buffalocalf incurred a new weapons offence while in custody at the Regina Correctional Centre last fall for allegedly having a spike covered in fabric in his possession.
. Agecoutay (also known as Bellegarde) was one of four men committed to stand trial for aggravated assault after a 25-year-old man was found seriously injured in a Regina alley in April 2007. Agecoutay was originally charged with attempted murder, but the charge was reduced after a preliminary hearing in February. He is also slated to stand trial in December on another charge of assault with a weapon.