Southern Manitoba town shocked by fatal police shooting after vehicle pursuit from Winnipeg

Police investigators examine a tarped off truck at a Shell gas station in Niverville, Man., on Wednesday morning. (Trevor Brine/CBC - image credit)
Police investigators examine a tarped off truck at a Shell gas station in Niverville, Man., on Wednesday morning. (Trevor Brine/CBC - image credit)

Residents of a small southern Manitoba community are in shock after their town saw the conclusion of a police chase across the region that ended with officers shooting and killing one suspect and another one fleeing to Saskatchewan, where he was eventually caught.

David Frank Burling, 29, was arrested along with a woman near Springside, Sask., about 25 kilometres northwest of Yorkton, around 2:30 p.m. CT following an hours-long search, Saskatchewan RCMP said Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier that day, RCMP said he fled the scene where another man was declared dead following a shooting by Winnipeg police.

Manitoba RCMP said that man was found in Niverville, about 20 kilometres south of Winnipeg, around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Town resident David Polanski said he woke up to what sounded like screeching tires and multiple shots. He said it all unfolded "within a few minutes."

"I heard screaming a little bit, like a female voice. Then I saw cop lights everywhere, right? Then I heard screeching of tires," he said.

"It doesn't seem like something that happens here," Polanski added. "I like to live out of cities, quieter. [It's] a little bit alarming."

Cruiser rammed during pursuit of stolen vehicle: City police

Winnipeg police said during a press conference Wednesday they got a report from RCMP of a stolen vehicle southwest of Winnipeg around 12:40 a.m.

Shortly after, a city patrol unit spotted the stolen truck, a black Ford F-350, near Ness Avenue and Linwood Street, in west Winnipeg.

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

The police service's helicopter tracked the vehicle for about an hour, before it ended up at a parking lot on College Crescent in Otterburne, in the Providence University College area, just south of Niverville.

As a police cruiser entered the lot, it was rammed by the stolen vehicle, after which there was an "engagement" in which police fired their guns, and the suspects fled the scene in the truck, Winnipeg police said.

Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC
Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC

An RCMP cruiser and yellow police tape could be seen near the college Wednesday around noon.

"Some of our staff and faculty who live on campus ... were aware of an event overnight," said Providence provost Nicholas Greco.

"From what I can see, it looks like a vehicle came through this area, and there was some reports that I heard of 'pops.'"

Several Winnipeg police vehicles were involved in the chase, police said.

Man found wounded inside stolen truck, police say

The police helicopter continued tracking their vehicle, following it to a parking lot on Drovers Run in Niverville, where the driver of the stolen truck got into another vehicle and fled.

Another man was found inside the black Ford with a gunshot wound. Winnipeg police said he died from his injuries before an ambulance arrived.

CBC
CBC

"Police members take their oath very seriously to protect and serve the citizens of Winnipeg. They don't want to kill anybody and they don't want to shoot anybody," Winnipeg Police Service Deputy Chief Art Stannard said at the news conference Wednesday, but "we react to the actions of the people."

Winnipeg police the initial report they got from RCMP about the stolen truck warned them the vehicle was occupied by people who may be armed and had prior criminal history, including two previous pursuits outside Winnipeg.

Stannard said the suspects were known to city police.

Police wouldn't give the name of the man who was shot, saying the use of force is now being investigated by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, the watchdog agency which investigates all serious incidents involving police in the province.

The IIU said in a Wednesday afternoon news release it's requested a civilian monitor, as the incident involves a death.

Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC
Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC

A woman who was a passenger in the stolen truck tried to escape on foot, but she was arrested by RCMP, Winnipeg police said.

Niverville resident heard shots, screaming

The Drovers Run area is a business strip that runs parallel to Highway 311 through the town. Residents told CBC News police were focused on an area around a Shell gas station and Tim Hortons restaurant at the corner of Drovers Run and Krahn Road.

Polanski, who lives nearby, said he saw a police officer running with a shotgun, after which he decided to shut his doors to not interfere.

CBC
CBC

"I was like, 'Holy crap, that guy is running with a gun,'" he said. "I noticed the cop cars within a couple of minutes. There was yelling and screaming, and gunshots."

Henok Negash runs Negash Coffee, next door to the Tim Hortons.

"When you hear of a police shooting … in a small town, [it's] never happened like this before," he said. "It just [shakes] you a little bit.... You can tell everybody who comes in here is a little bit shocked."

Manitoba police were also at a second scene earlier Wednesday, just southeast of Niverville, at the corner of Highway 59 and Provincial Road 305, which is between Otterburne and Niverville.

Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC
Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC

A Winnipeg police cruiser was parked there earlier Wednesday with a portion of its front end smashed in and about a dozen bullet holes in its windshield.

RCMP said that was connected with the Niverville incident.

Saskatchewan manhunt leads to 2 arrests

On Wednesday morning, Saskatchewan RCMP said they were looking for Burling, later indicating he may be travelling through the Yorkton area, in southeastern Saskatchewan.

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

Police believed he was driving a green 2016 Subaru Crosstrek SUV, which had a Manitoba licence plate reading either LJB 238 or LMJ 710. But in an update Wednesday afternoon, they said Burling was found in a silver vehicle, not the green Subaru.

Sask. RCMP said he and a woman that was also in the vehicle were arrested without incident.

Manitoba court files show Burling has several prior convictions, including for multiple instances of flight from a peace officer that date back to 2014.

Saskatchewan RCMP
Saskatchewan RCMP

While Burling's been caught, police are still urging the public to call RCMP if they see the Subaru, warning they should not approach if it's spotted.

'I can't fathom how something like this could have happened'

In a Wednesday morning notice to parents, Hanover School Division said Niverville's elementary, middle and high schools had been placed in a hold and secure situation, usually used when there's an emergency situation happening outside the school.

CBC
CBC

In a hold and secure, classes continue and students and staff can enter the building, but the school's exterior doors are otherwise locked and monitored.

Students spent recess and lunch inside school on Wednesday as a precaution, the division said.

Former mayor Clarence Braun lives about two blocks away from where the incident happened. He said he saw swarms of RCMP and Winnipeg police officers on his way to work.

Braun said he's shocked to see something like this happen in his town, which as of 2021 was inhabited by fewer than 6,000 people.

WATCH | Former Niverville mayor describes aftermath of shooting:

"I can't fathom how something like this could have happened, but then that's not the world I live in," he said.

"I don't think what we see here reflects on our community specifically," Braun added. "But it does … reflect on the culture that we live in today."

In a statement posted to the town's Facebook page, officials thanked Niverville residents for their "understanding and patience" in light of the shooting, and thanked the RCMP.