2006 August 1
ST. STEPHEN A 24-year-old Grand Manan man has been charged with possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace and with unsafe storage of five firearms in the wake of an RCMP investigation into a vigilante mob attack on a residence in the early morning hours of July 22 on Grand Manan Island.
Carter Wayne Foster made a brief court appearance Monday afternoon, and was remanded to custody until Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., when he will appear back in St. Stephen Provincial Court for a bail hearing on the two indictable charges. He is also expected to elect his mode of trial at that time.
Foster, a dark haired man of medium height and build, sporting a small beard and dressed in an open-necked, black shirt and blue jeans, appeared in court in the custody of the RCMP.
In an equally brief court appearance Monday morning, in response to a question from Provincial Court Judge David C Walker, Foster told the judge he had been arrested at 4:30 a.m. Sunday on Grand Manan and had been in custody since.
RCMP Sergeant Greg MacAvoy said Foster was flown from the island to St. Stephen for his court appearance.
Foster's arrest comes during an intensive investigation into the actions of 40 to 50 people who converged on a Castalia home rumoured to be a "crack house" whose occupants were allegedly selling drugs.
The mob fired gun shots, flare guns and some reports say, Molotov cocktails made from beer bottles, as they approached the house that was burned to the ground in the attack. Five men from the house were badly beaten. Reports have circulated that the citizens of Grand Manan were tired of the drug problem on the island, and some decided to take matters into their own hands.
The incident prompted an increased RCMP presence on Grand Manan this past weekend.
Sergeant Dana Hart said "in excess of 20" members were dispatched to the island. Four RCMP officers are stationed there.
He said a "large contingent" of those extra officers was delegated to working on the investigation of last week's vigilante mob actions, while others were there to "preserve law and order" within the island community.
Many of those now working on the investigation are expected to stay on Grand Manan for several more days said Sgt. Hart.
Sgt. Hart said the officers discovered this past weekend that "there is a very large silent majority on this island that is afraid of both groups involved in this conflict."
Their fear is so great, he said, that people approached the officers singly, instead of out in the open in groups, to thank them for their presence on the island over the weekend.
"A large number of individual citizens have expressed their gratitude for our presence, a very large number," stated Sgt. Hart.
"I won't get into details, but police are saying those responsible for last weekend's events are not citizens concerned about the drug problem. There are those that were involved, that sort of were present and may have legitimately believed they were rallying against the drug problem, but some of the key individuals had other motives," said Sgt. Hart.
He declined to reveal what police believed those other motives to be, saying the force was still compiling evidence.
Sgt. Hart said he felt the police presence on Grand Manan this past weekend was a success.
"We hope the good, decent citizens of Grand Manan will stand up and say we are not going to tolerate illegal activities by anyone, by any party," said Sgt. Hart.
"That there's a proper way of dealing with the criminal element. Tell the police and give the police the information to do their job."
The officer said justice was a slow process because of the system's "checks and balances."
"We want to ensure when we charge somebody that we have the evidence to support it," explained Sgt. Hart.
"Our concern is with any vigilante group, any group whatever they want to call themselves, if they are ultimately carrying out vigilante activities, where does it stop? It grows; they get more confident. That concern has been expressed to us by citizens here. They're afraid, wondering, okay, what's next?"
In an earlier discussion about the situation on Grand Manan and people taking the law into their own hands, Sgt. Hart had commented he would hate to see Grand Manan become the Haiti of Canada, referring to the constant political unrest and public uprisings in that country.
But after spending the weekend on the island, he doesn't think that will happen.
"It was very reassuring to hear so many people telling our members over this past weekend, and the members stationed here, that they want law and order. They want peace. They don't want vigilantism.
"While they are very frustrated with drugs and understandably so, there's a right way of dealing with them and a wrong way."
Sgt. Hart said the investigation so far has resulted in two men on Grand Manan being taken into custody "in relation to the shooting and arson of a residence on Cedar Street" and search warrants were executed on their homes Sunday around noontime.
One man was subsequently released.
Sgt. Hart said Sunday the officers executing the search warrants were "looking for evidence directly in relation to last weekend's incident."
© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB