After multiple areas of eastern Ontario were placed on high alert, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have provided further information on the situations that unfolded on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
That day, residents throughout the region focused on the events after receiving an emergency alert through the provincial public safety emergency alert system at approximately 12 p.m. That alert gave notice that an armed suspect was wanted by police and may be in the Smiths Falls, Lanark County, Carleton Place, and/or Sharbot Lake areas. The notice specified that residents in those areas were to shelter in place, lock all doors and windows, and contact police regarding any suspicious persons. It also instructed people to call 911 and not approach if the suspect was seen, but failed to give any description of the suspect in question.
Shortly thereafter, the OPP released the descriptions and photos of two males who were considered “at large.” Police noted both males had extensive criminal histories, and the shelter-in-place directives continued.
Just after 4:15 p.m., the OPP confirmed that there was no longer a risk to public safety – and, in fact, there may never have been. At that time, they announced the arrest of Dale Lewis Scott, 26, of Drummond-North Elmsley Township. The situation, police said at that time, stemmed from a stolen vehicle fleeing police, which was later stopped in the Smiths Falls area.
“The ongoing investigation has determined that there was actually no firearm involved,” the OPP said late in the afternoon of February 10.
Adding confusion to the situation, Scott was not one of the two men whose photos and descriptions were released to the public earlier in the day. Those two males, police said later, were no longer wanted by police.
Today, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, the OPP issued a press release to “provide clarification” regarding these events.
“Following the recent public safety emergency alert, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to thank the public for their cooperation and patience. Our top priority is always your safety. We appreciate the steps taken to protect yourself during this fluid, dynamic and complex investigation,” the OPP said.
The press release goes on to detail that, on the morning of Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, the Lanark County Detachment of the OPP “received information” from the Smiths Falls Police Service regarding a stolen vehicle. That vehicle was located by the OPP travelling northbound on Highway 15 in Beckwith Township, police said.
“The OPP utilized a spike belt and the vehicle was stopped just outside Smiths Falls,” the OPP said today, noting that Scott was the lone occupant of the vehicle and was arrested on the scene.
It remains unclear why this situation was confused with another situation, however, the OPP said that, during the investigation into the stolen vehicle, Lanark County OPP “received information that two additional men, armed with a handgun, had been in the vicinity of Beckwith Recreation Complex on 9th Line.”
“These men both have a history of violence and multiple criminal convictions,” the OPP said in the February 14 press release.
“An initial search began to locate these men, who were believed to be at large in Lanark County or Sharbot Lake. In the interest of public safety, the OPP posted warnings on social media and issued an emergency alert to notify residents of the potential threat,” police continued.
“Public safety emergency alerts are only issued when there is an ongoing, urgent and significant threat to life. The purpose of the alert is to share critical and potentially life-saving information with the public quickly. One of the criteria for an emergency alert is that the threat is neither isolated nor contained. Because the suspects were at large, the emergency alert was issued to surrounding townships and municipalities.”
The OPP said their agency has “an obligation to balance the public’s right to know and the individual’s right to privacy.”
“The names and photos of the suspects were released to the public to ensure that those in the area could take appropriate steps to protect their safety,” the provincial police service said.
Following an “extensive search of the area,” which involved the OPP Aviation division, Tactics and Rescue Unit, Emergency Response Team, Canine Unit, and officers from the Lanark County Detachment, “the OPP determined that there was no longer an ongoing, urgent, and imminent threat to public safety in the area.”
“As a result, the alert was lifted,” the OPP said in the February 14 press release.
However, it was not determined if either of those two males identified by police as being at large were ever armed and dangerous, according to Acting Sergeant Erin Cranton, Media Coordinator for the East Region OPP.
“At this time the investigation is ongoing,” Cranton said in response to direct questioning on whether either of the two males in question were ever found to have been armed on February 10, 2023.
“Following a thorough investigation, OPP were unable to find evidence to support the initial information received about a firearm being involved,” she continued, confirming that the description and photo of the suspect arrested were not released to the public until after the alert was lifted.
“Significant concerns were raised during the investigation as both men have a history of violence and multiple criminal convictions.”
The two individuals named in the alert still have outstanding warrants for their arrests in relation to other incidents, the OPP said in the release, though they did not name those two people in the release.
“If you see these individuals, do not approach them. Anyone with information regarding these individuals should contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous online message at www.helpsolvecrime.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000,” the OPP said.
Since that is the case, those two males are:
Lucas Young, 33, who is described as standing 5’5” (168 cm), and weighing 158 lbs (72 kg), with a medium build, blue eyes, and short brown hair.
Chase Lahaise, 30, who is described as standing 6’3” (190 cm), and weight 152 lbs (69 kg), with a thin build, blue eyes, and brown hair.
The OPP indicated on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, that these two men may have ties to the Sharbot Lake area. While it is unknown what the warrants for their arrests are in relation to, the OPP indicated on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, that they should not be approached.
Finally, the OPP also conveyed that Dale Lewis Scott has been further charged following investigation with:
- Public mischief
- Mischief causing damages under $5,000
- Two counts of operation of a motor vehicle while prohibited
- Three counts of failure to comply with a probation order
- Two counts of driving while under suspension
“The OPP recognizes the emotional impact that receiving an emergency alert can cause. The decision to issue an emergency alert is never taken lightly. The OPP is committed to both public safety and continuous improvement,” the OPP concluded in today’s press release.
“With each alert, we look to further refine and improve the emergency alerting process. We would like to thank the public again for their patience and cooperation.”