RCMP close in on teenage suspects from law-breaking party
RCMP investigators say they have identified dozens of suspects from a Saturday night party in East St. Paul where police officers were swarmed, spat on and subjected to racial slurs.
The chaotic gathering — where hundreds of people, reportedly ranging from teens to adults in their early 20s, streamed from a property on Saddleridge Lane near Rothesay Street — has sparked a widespread investigation, police said Tuesday.
Two police vehicles were damaged, a teen girl was nearly sexually assaulted, and officers had fireworks launched at them, RCMP said.
Staff Sgt. Kyle McFadyen said investigators are combing through tips from the public, police surveillance footage and the deluge of videos and photographs young attendees posted to social media.
“We’re collecting all the evidence we have, we do have a lot of tips coming in, identifying people… It’s popular for youth to video record much of their actions. We’ve seen that already with tidbits and short clips of videos. All those essentially get collected,” said McFadyen, who oversees operations for the Selkirk, Red River North and Grand Marais detachments.
“Ultimately, we’re going to hold those who were responsible for the damage to our police cars, the damage to the residence, accountable — that will just take a little bit of time.”
Officers made arrests that night to help control the crowd, but McFadyen said he could not speak Tuesday to any charges laid, any subsequent arrests, nor victims identified.
Brandon University sociology Prof. Christopher Schneider said social media footage will complicate matters.
“The onus is on proving the materials have not been Photoshopped, doctored, deep-faked, what have you, in the court room,” said Schneider, who studies social media, media and policing.
“These materials, these social media materials, become pieces of the larger puzzle that investigators are going to put together.”
The investigation will likely take longer than usual due to the nature of social media, he added.
“And there’s an irony here because the public sees these materials, they’ve heard about these materials circulating online, and it seems obvious that the recordings are of criminal events happening and (ask) why aren’t these people… in prison or charged?” Schneider said.
“The integrity of the data itself has become compromised or complex in the way that it is shared.”
Three RCMP officers were initially called to the upscale neighbourhood just inside the north Perimeter Highway around 10 p.m. about a loud party. They reported about 70 youth on the street as they pulled up — not unusual, especially on a warm weekend leading up to Halloween, McFadyen said.
“More and more people (started) to congregate out and back and forth from the house party onto the street. The officers realized quite quickly that there (were) several hundred people,” McFadyen said.
RCMP officers were swarmed by about 70 intoxicated people at a massive house party attended by hundreds of teens in the RM of East St. Paul on Saturday.
The officers called for RCMP backup, before calling in nearby Winnipeg police officers.
“It was difficult to drive in because of the number of (vehicles) and pedestrians. Once they got in there, they realized the gravity of it and so it became almost an emergency situation… It was beyond a few kids getting together and playing loud music.”
An officer intervened as two male teens dragged a female into the bush in an attempt to sexually assault her, McFadyen said. She was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The suspects fled on foot.
Some of the attendees spat at officers and others shot off fireworks, some in the direction of police, RCMP said.
Officers did not use pepper spray, beanbag rounds or other forceful means to quell the mayhem, McFadyen said.
“It was difficult to drive in because of the number of (vehicles) and pedestrians… It was beyond a few kids getting together and playing loud music.”–Staff Sgt. Kyle McFadyen
Video of the chaotic scene that circulated widely on social media showed several teens jumping on RCMP vehicles and kicking out a windshield.
“It took a lot of resources to respond to this, just because some youth wanted to have a little fun. Every officer that was tied up in this call was not able to respond to perhaps another incident,” McFadyen said.
He would not speculate on any motive for the potentially dangerous actions of the party-goers.
“Believe me, that’s one of the questions we have as well — that will hopefully be uncovered as part of our investigation,” he said.
“We’re going to peel back the layers and get the facts.”
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
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