2006 July 28
ST. STEPHEN - Ronnie Ross said the attack Friday night on his home in Castalia by a mob of Grand Manan residents while he and seven friends from Saint John were inside "was just like being in a war."
That's why, he said, he grabbed his .3030 rifle and fired back at people who were shooting flares from flare guns at his home in an attempt to set it on fire.
When asked if he fired over the heads of the people in the crowd, Ross replied, "no."
"I was hoping to hit somebody to stop them from trying to kill us," he said.
Ross said people were firing guns as well as flares at his home and said the angle of the bullet holes in a white Suburban parked in his yard would support his claim. He said the crowd also tossed Molotov cocktails at his house.
Ross said he fired about 15 shots into the crowd gathered on the road in front of his home. There have been no reports of anyone being hit.
Police are still investigating the violent attack during which a group of 40 to 50 vigilantes who according to various news reports now want to be identified as "concerned citizens" upset about the island's increasing drug problem swarmed Ross's bungalow, a suspected "crack house" and set it on fire. Ross denies any involvement with drugs.
According to District 1 RCMP Sergeant Greg MacAvoy, the incident is still under investigation, and no charges have yet been laid.
"We're still investigating," said Sgt. MacAvoy.
"We will be interviewing people over the next few days to see what we can determine."
Meanwhile, the RCMP has increased its presence on the island, where tensions remain high among the locals over the incident.
Ross's house, estimated to be worth about $25,000, was burned to the ground during the attack.
"I lost everything," said Ross, 41, a lobster fisherman, who has lived at 61 Cedar Street in Castalia for the past one-and-a-half years. Ross said he was originally from Digby, N.S., and had fished scallops there.
Ross said the attack on him and his home was prompted by rumours that he ran a crack house.
"I'm supposed to be trafficking in crack and crack cocaine," said Ross, who emphatically stated, "I'm not involved in drugs."
"I've never been caught with anything," he said.
"I've never been charged."
Ross also said he's been accused of trafficking in stolen goods.
"I let the police in to search my house. They never found anything."
Ross said the purpose of the attack was to run him off the island.
After an appearance in St. Stephen Provincial Court Tuesday afternoon on unrelated matters, Ross was ordered by Provincial Court Judge David C. Walker not to return to Grand Manan.
Ross has been charged with uttering death threats to two neighbours and threatening to burn down their house. It is alleged the threats were made July 2.
Ross is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 29, at 9:30 a.m., when he will enter a plea to the three charges. He was released on a Form 12 court document stipulating he is to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, have no contact with the complainants, a man and a woman from Grand Manan, and is not allowed to be on Grand Manan.
Judge Walker warned Ross if he had to return to Grand Manan for "reasons not disclosed" he would have to come back to court to get permission to do so.
"Do not violate this," the judge warned.
He said the Form 12 document with the conditions Ross agreed to and had to sign before he left the building was all that was allowing Ross to leave court without a bail hearing.
Sgt. MacAvoy said Ross was arrested "when he surfaced late Sunday night" and was taken into custody. He was escorted to court by an RCMP officer Tuesday, who also gave a lift off the island to Ross's female friend. Sgt. MacAvoy disputed CBC reports that the woman was escorted off the island.
"She was not escorted off the island, we gave her a drive," said Sgt. MacAvoy.
The woman accompanied Ross to his court appearance and was overheard thanking the female RCMP officer for her help.
At his court appearance, Ross sported a large black eye and numerous cuts and scrapes to his face as well as a large bruise to the back and side of his right leg caused, he said, by a flare that hit him as he stood on his front porch.
He said he wanted to tell his side of the story and agreed to an interview with a reporter from the Courier Weekend, relating his version of events from last Friday evening and early Saturday morning.
He said three friends came to visit from Saint John. Those friends and some other people from Grand Manan eight including Ross were in his house.
"We were talking, chatting, having a few beers," said Ross.
Ross said he and his friends noticed people gathering across the road. When the crowd starting coming into Rossí driveway, he and his friends, except for the one female visitor, went outside.
Ross said a neighbour began mouthing off at him and started a fight with him on the road. When Ross disengaged himself from the neighbour, he and his friends went back into his yard and eventually into the house.
"They started shooting flares at the house. At that point they were going all around the house shooting flares. The police were out on the road and didn't do nothing," stated Ross.
He said he was standing on his porch when a flare went through the railing and struck him on the leg. At that point he got his woman friend out of the house and then started firing back with his rifle at the crowd.
"You can't die without firing back," said Ross.
At some point, Ross said, he left his home and went down the road to a friend's house to "get away."
Meanwhile four of his friends, three from Saint John and one from the island, were getting beaten up by the crowd. Ross said upon his return to check on his friends, he was beaten by three people, in front of a police officer.
"That's how I got these marks on my face," he said. "They used a baseball bat and their hands."
He said he knew who he fought with, but declined to identify his attackers at this time. Ross said the fire department couldn'tget through the crowd to save his home because vehicles and people were blocking the road.
"People were trying to cut the fire hoses off the trucks," said Ross.
The woman with Ross at the courthouse Tuesday confirmed she was terrified by the events that took place. She did not give her name.
Ross claims he's been harassed by the Island RCMP for the last year. He said once, when a friend from Saint John arrived for a visit, the RCMP met the man as he left the ferry. He was searched, then carted off to the local detachment and strip searched.
"They found nothing," stated Ross.
After that, he said his house was raided. Again nothing was found.
He shakes his head over the charges laid Tuesday.
"Where's the law?" he asked. "Those charges were laid to keep me off the island. My house was burned down and I'm the one who ends up in court."
Ross said he has had rocks and a propane tank thrown through his windows in the past, and a truck was burned in his yard.
"And the police did nothing. Nothing ever happened. Why don't they do their job? I work for a living," Ross stated.
He said he can'tget a taxi to get around Grand Manan because cab drivers have been threatened and warned not to pick him up.
"I can'twork now, I've lost my job. I can'tlive there, they burned my house. I'm screwed all the way around," said Ross.
He said he won'tever return to Grand Manan.
"I'll never go back. But don't tell them that," he said with a laugh.
"Make them sweat about it."
© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB