By Darren Lum
When Butch Munshaw a retired postmaster and well-known handyman in the Haliburton area heard shots fired near his house on Indian Point Road involving who he would later learn was his reclusive neighbour and the OPP he was alarmed such a thing would be happening in his quiet neighbourhood.
It was close to 9 a.m. on July 15 when he heard two “high-powered gun shots” Munshaw said.
“I said to my [adult] grandson ‘That’s kind of strange.’ I jumped into my car and I went down and pulled out of the driveway and soon as I turned out coming over the crest of the hill there there was [an officer] on each side of the road like this [on the road]” he said adding he saw a spike belt across the road.
One of the officers told him to return to his home saying “Go back in your driveway and lock your door” and then added there is an “active shooter.”
Thinking about it he said there must have been other police responders over the rise closer to his neighbour’s house which is out of his view.
“We’re standing in the house and maybe 15 or 20 minutes later there was just a barrage of shots eh. [My grandson] is a forensic science guy – he just graduated from forensic sciences. He said as soon as he heard those shots – he even named the rifle the size it would [be] the calibre because he knew it – there had to have been 25 or 30 shots” he said.
According to the Special Investigations Unit which investigates incidents involving police where there has been death two officers discharged their firearms during the incident. “The man was struck. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 11:47 a.m.” a press release from SIU says.
On July 16 the SIU confirmed investigators had collected firearms along with those of OPP officers at the scene.
“From the scene a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol were collected. The firearms of two police officers were also secured” a press release reads.
A post-mortem examination was to be conducted on the morning of July 17 and the SIU is continuing to attempt to locate the man’s next of kin.
Since the shooting there have been dozens of police officers and the Special Investigations Unit investigating the area on the road in front of and at the residence of the 73-year-old man.
It’s a surreal scene for residents who have talked about the incident which has been covered by media outlets across the province.
It started about an hour before at the Minden Valu-Mart where the man was asked to wear a face mask – a newly mandated measure by the region’s health unit to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – and reacted by allegedly assaulting an employee. According to the store owner Linda Easton the man then fled the scene in his vehicle upending a vehicle on his exit from the parking lot.
His name has not been released by the SIU. Their last update about the investigation was Thursday July 16.
Munshaw is a friendly gregarious man. He knows everyone in the immediate area and beyond thanks to his post office experience and his current business as a caretaker of cottages on the lake. However his neighbour is a mystery.
The man avoided interactions refusing drives from neighbours in the winter when he was walking and not engaging in conversation.
“If I was down [on my property within view of his driveway] there working and he was in the driveway he would … go up to the house” he said. “He just would not be around people.”
He said the man lived on a large property closed off with a secured gate and no trespassing sign. He never saw anyone visit the man and believes he wasn’t “friendly with anybody.”
Munshaw said he has many questions and hopes more details from the investigation will be released.
“What happened to this guy? What made him do this?” he said.
Munshaw’s neighbour Brian Nash who lives on a road off of Indian Point Road said he didn’t have any interactions with the man and was saddened to learn of the man’s death.
“Although I never knew him I respected the fact that he only wanted to be alone. For 10 years I’d drive by his driveway and look up just to see if I might see him or if there were tracks in the winter so I knew he was all right. He clearly had some serious trauma in his life that left him only wanting to be secluded. Yesterday’s events are tragic” he said.
With files from Chad Ingram