Cole Hosack was only supposed to be in Dawson Creek, B.C., for a few days.
The 24-year-old was travelling over the holidays from Prince George, B.C., to Medicine Hat, Alta., to start a new job. He was with a friend who has family in Dawson Creek, so they stopped in town to celebrate on New Year's Eve.
He went to a bar on Dec. 31 and hasn't been heard from since.
"My worst fear right now is not finding him for the next 30 years," his mother Julie Hosack said in an interview with CBC News.
Hosack organized a community search for her son on Monday, saying she's been frustrated by a lack of communication from RCMP.
But she's also worried about something else: that many people in Dawson Creek — a city in the Peace River region around 740 kilometres north of Vancouver and 20 kilometres from the Alberta border that has a population of 12,000 — seem afraid to say anything out of fear they could become targets amid a rise in violent, street-level crime in the region.
"People are scared there because of all that's transpiring," she said. "A lot of people do not want to get involved."
Rise in gang activity, gun violence
According to RCMP, Hosack was last seen in the area of the Lonestar Nightlife around 12:20 a.m. local time on Jan. 1.
The day prior, officers found a body inside a car a few blocks from the same location, which is now being investigated as a suspicious death.
And on Jan. 8, one person was killed in the community of Fort St. John, around 65 kilometres northwest, when four vehicles were involved in a shooting and subsequent car chase.
Bullets also went into a residence unrelated to the shooting, though no injuries were reported.
Kaylee Lindberg has partnered with Conservative MP Bob Zimmer to petition the House of Commons to take more action on violent and gang-related activity in northern B.C. (Facebook/Bob Zimmer)
Though RCMP haven't linked any of the cases, they have reported a rise in gang-related violence in the region — so much so that additional officers from the province's Uniform Gang Enforcement Team have been deployed to the area to support local police.
That call was made after Dawson Creek registered five separate calls for gun-related violence in November, leading to rising fears among residents.
Police said while many of the cases appear to be targeted, they are still concerned for public safety.
Hosack worries people are assuming her son was somehow involved with local gang activity, despite not having any connections to the city.
"Cole's never been to Dawson, he doesn't know anyone in Dawson, he was simply stopping through," she said.
Deaths and disappearances
Hosack isn't alone in worrying about a loved one who has gone missing from Dawson Creek. There are currently four high-profile missing person cases in the community, all opened within the last year.
Two of the missing people are cousins: Darylyn Supernant, 29, missing since March 15, and Renee Didier (Supernant), 41, last seen Dec. 2. Both women are Cree, according to family, who said they are not believed to have the same social circles.
Early reports said Didier was last seen at the same nightclub as Cole Hosack, but police have since clarified she was later spotted on gas station surveillance footage from Dec. 3.
Missing cousins Darylyn Supernant, left, and Renee Didier (Supernant). Supernant is described as five feet four inches tall, 119 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen March 15, 2023. Didier is described as five feet 10 inches tall, 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen Dec. 3, 2023. (Dawson Creek RCMP)
After Cole Hosack, the fourth missing person is Dave Daniel Domingo, a 24-year-old believed to have been in a rural area near Dawson Creek on Aug. 29 when police responded to reports of a possible shooting, though little information has been released.
In addition, at least four homicides were recorded in 2023, according to a review of media releases from police.
When asked for a full tally, Dawson Creek RCMP Const. Emma Baron said she was unable to answer because suspicious death investigations are handled by the force's North District Major Crime Unit, which will not share the information.
'A lot of people in Dawson Creek are on edge'
Kaylee Lindberg says she's frustrated by what seems to be a sharp increase in violence in the community where she grew up.
An employee at a local school, she was with a group of kids outside last fall when shots started ringing out a few blocks away. That followed an incident over the summer in which someone was fatally stabbed near her home.
"I'm getting worried about just going for a walk," she said. "Everybody I talk to is feeling the same thing."
Cole Hosack is described as white, five feet nine inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen at Lonestar Nightlife in Dawson Creek, B.C., on New Year's Eve. (Dawson Creek RCMP)
That sentiment was echoed by Supernant's mother, Shelley Supernant, who says she hasn't felt safe since her daughter went missing. She also says a shooting occurred near her home.
"I look at cars differently, I look at people differently, I look at roads differently. My mind is different now," she said. "A lot of people in Dawson Creek are on edge."
Supernant said her daughter was "happy go lucky" with an infectious laugh and enjoyed hobbies like crocheting and fixing up clothes. She was a user of illicit drugs, which her mother described as a "high-risk" lifestyle.
Dave Daniel Domingo is described as Filipino, five feet nine inches, 240 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. He is believed missing following a possible shooting in the rural community of Rolla, near Dawson Creek, B.C., on Aug. 29, 2023. (Dawson Creek RCMP)
Still, Supernant said, it was unusual for her daughter to go more than a week without checking in and she worries she has become a victim of the increased violence in the community.
That fear is shared by Didier's grandmother, Verna Cardinal, who said her granddaughter had recently started associating with people involved with drugs after moving back to Dawson Creek from Fort St. John.
Cardinal said she was supposed to pick up her granddaughter the night she disappeared but "she never did call me."
She described Didier as a "fun-loving" mother of two.
"She was always laughing a lot ... she always travelled with me if I had to go somewhere," she said.
"I don't think me and her ever argued."
Calls for action from RCMP, government
Didier, Supernant and Hosack all say they have been confused by how RCMP have been handling the investigations.
Potential witnesses and suspects, they said, had yet to be contacted and communication from officers has been sparse.
Baron, with Dawson Creek RCMP, said all the cases are being taken seriously and her detachment is pushing for more resources to support both front-line policing and more complex investigations.
Dawson Creek mayor Darcy Dober says his first year in office was dominated by questions about the rise in violent crime in his community. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)
Dawson Creek Mayor Darcy Dober said the rise in violent crime has dominated his first year in office and he's been happy with the response from RCMP.
But other levels of government aren't as satisfied. On Monday, B.C. United MLA Mike Bernier gave a presentation to Dawson Creek council sharing his thoughts on the issue.
He suggested local RCMP do more to communicate updates about investigations to avoid the spread of rumours.
"When the information's not there, people start making up their own," he said.
He also said he wanted to push for more action from the province and federal government to crack down on repeat violent offenders.
In an interview with CBC this week, Premier David Eby shared the sentiment, pointing to his lobbying efforts to pass new bail reform laws that make it harder for known repeat offenders to be released into communities.
And Conservative MP Bob Zimmer has partnered with school employee Lindberg to start a petition to the House of Commons to do more to tackle gang-related homicides.
Lindberg said if things continue to worsen, she may move out of town to avoid the rise in violence.
"I really hope we can get on top of the situation before it gets worse," she said.