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'Hit! Hit! We need help!' La Ronge RCMP officers radio for back-up

With a 9mm handgun, Terrence Daigneault opened fire on two La Ronge RCMP officers, court heard.
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Three bullets hit the police vehicle’s radiator, bumper, and front windshield.

LA RONGE — “Hit! Hit! We need help!” yelled police as they radioed for back-up in La Ronge after being shot at, while simultaneously yelling to suspects “Get out of the car!" court heard.

Justice Dorinda Stahl, in her May 27 written decision, sentenced Terrence Arnold Daigneault in Prince Albert Court of King's Bench to 4,108 days in prison. He was given 1,055 days enhanced credit for the 703 days he spent on remand. This means he has 2,963 days, or eight years and two months, left to serve in a federal penitentiary.

Daigneault, who also goes by Terrance Kenny, had opened fire with a 9mm handgun on Const. Ajay Bains and Const. Adam Abu-Ali on June 19, 2022.

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Using a 9mm handgun, Terrance Daigneault opened fire on two RCMP officers. Courtesy RCMP

It started when La Ronge RCMP officers had attempted to make a traffic stop of a vehicle that was driving at a high rate of speed. The two La Ronge RCMP officers were conducting patrols in the community when the black car drove past their vehicle at a high rate of speed on Far Reserve Road. The car pulled into a driveway of a home at 236 Far Reserve Road and came to a stop. The police cruiser pulled behind the vehicle.

The driver, Allan Sanderson, got out of the vehicle and ran. There were four passengers remaining in the vehicle, including Daigneault, who was in the rear passenger seat, and three others, court heard.

Within seconds of Sanderson fleeing, Daigneault fired off five rounds at the RCMP as officers shouted “Gun! Gun! Gun!” into their radios. Three bullets hit the police vehicle’s radiator, bumper, and front windshield.

After firing five rounds, Daigneault jumped into the driver’s seat and stuck his hand, while still holding the firearm, through the sunroof, aiming it again at the marked police cruiser. He then jumped out of the vehicle and fled the scene.

The entire incident  – which was a total length of one minute and 17 seconds – was captured by the RCMP “WatchGuard” video (including sound), said Justice Stahl.

A large police response team, including police officers from the south, tried to locate Daigneault, who was now at large. This directly affected the “Tri Community” known as the Town of La Ronge, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and the Village of Air Ronge. The RCMP issued public safety advisories advising people to stay home. A community gathering previously planned was cancelled and stores in the Tri-Community were shut down.

Three days later Daigneault was located in a Saskatoon motel and there was a standoff with police, which included the use of a crisis negotiator. Daigneault’s girlfriend Nikeyta Bradfield exited the motel room. Shortly after, Daigneault surrendered to police. Prior to his surrender Daigneault was, “threatening to shoot.”

The firearm that was used at the shooting on Far Reserve Road was never recovered but cartridge shells from the scene confirmed the firearm used was a 9mm, a restricted firearm, said Justice Stahl.

The Crown sought a 13-year global prison sentence for the offences that Daigneault had pleaded guilty, including with intent to prevent his arrest, discharging a 9mm handgun at Const. Ajay Bains and Const. Adam Abu-Ali, possession of a loaded restricted firearm without a license, being at large on a release order, and possession of a firearm while prohibited. He was initially charged with two counts of attempted murder with a firearm, discharging a firearm with intent and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Defence asked the court for a seven to nine-year prison sentence.

A pre-sentence report revealed that Daigneault, now 31, is Métis. He grew up in Îl-à-la-Crosse but spent summers in Buffalo Narrows. His parents consumed alcohol and marijuana and fought when they drank, which scared him and his sisters. Their home had become loud and overcrowded. During his childhood, Daigneault was sexually assaulted at the age of eight by his sister’s friend, court heard.

Daigneault’s parents attended residential school in Îl-à-la-Crosse but have not spoken of their experiences except to say, as his father has put it, “residential school was tough on me, and I want better for my children.” 

Daigneault parents quit drinking when he was about 14, but by this time he was already involved in selling drugs and drinking, court heard. He left home at the age of 15. Around this time, he began a long-term relationship with a woman named Tiffany. Tragically, she committed suicide in 2019, said Justice Stahl.

In 2020, his new girlfriend gave him an ultimatum, the “brotherhood” of the gang, or her. The couple had a child together but she became his former girlfriend, court heard.

Daigneault graduated Grade 12 and went to the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science (SIAST), obtaining his first-year welding certificate. He has been employed as a seasonal worker at his community’s fish plant and has been a part-time hockey coach. He has also been employed as a welder with various companies and worked on various projects. At times he has lost his employment due to being in jail.

Daigneault first drank at age nine and started drinking regularly at about age 14. By the time of this offence, he was consuming three 26-ounce bottles of vodka per day.  Despite being in overall good health, he suffers from alcohol use (and associated seizures), anxiety and depression, as well as issues controlling his anger.

“Terrence states all his negative behaviours have been the result of him being under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” said Justice Stahl. “Terrence understands he must address his addiction and is willing to attend an inpatient program.

“He states he has had a lot of anger from his early years and would like to work with a therapist to learn coping strategies to release his pain positively,” added Justice Stahl. “Terrence states he is no longer gang-affiliated; however, he is still spending time with negative peers and does not understand how they may influence his behaviours.”

Daigneault considers himself an alcoholic, and attributes much of his conflict with the justice system to his alcohol abuse, said Justice Stahl.

“All my charges are alcohol-related," said Daigneault. "I don’t do stupid shit [sic] when I am sober. I have all this anger built up inside of me, and I let it loose when I drink.”

The Crown told the court that one of the officers has since been transferred out of the La Ronge detachment due to this incident, and the other, while still with the RCMP in La Ronge, is working in another department.

The Crown filed two statements for consideration by the Court: one by Sergeant Dean Bridle (Sgt. Bridle) of the La Ronge RCMP, and the second by Chief Superintendent of Criminal Operations Centre in Saskatchewan, Teddy Munro (C/Supt. Munro).

“As the incident unfolded, instinct kicked in and the many tasks were prioritized and assigned,” said Sgt. Bridle. “As the detachment commander I am responsible for the not only safety and well-being of the members, but the community at large. Due to there being an armed individual at large, we had to take immediate action to ensure that community safety was met and the general public were not at risk. This meant stopping a large community gathering for the children at Paterson Park that had been planned many weeks earlier, and closing down all of the shopping stores in the Tri-Community area. This had a significant impact on many people who genuinely feared for their safety after receiving the SASK Alert that was sent out asking that they shelter in place.”

C/Supt. Munro also spoke about how the shooting impacted the community.

“The incident has left an indelible mark on the communities of La Ronge, Air Ronge and Lac La Ronge First Nation, instilling fear and uncertainty among residents who witnessed the brazen attack on those sworn to protect and serve. The sense of safety the community once took for granted has been shattered, replaced by heightened vigilance and a lingering unease.

“The impact on the officers involved is immeasurable," added C/Supt. Munro. "The dedication to public safety has placed them in harm’s way, causing physical and emotional trauma that extends beyond the immediate incident. The constant threat to their lives and the toll on their mental well-being must not be underestimated.

“As the second in Command of the Saskatchewan RCMP, I also recognize the broader impact on our community’s perception of safety. The incident has strained the delicate trust between citizens and those tasked with upholding the law. Rebuilding this trust is crucial for the well-being of the communities and the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts.”

Sgt. Bridle described how he saw the shooting affect his officers.

“The following day as the investigation continued, I kept an eye on both Ajay and Adam checking to see how they were doing. Ajay is typically the one in the office who always keeps everyone laughing and smiling and despite him saying that he was doing OK, it was evident that he was struggling to deal with the events from the day before. Ajay spent the day at Adam’s house to support and keep an eye on each other. Later that evening on June 20, Ajay sent me a message asking if he and Adam could come over to my place. Ajay and Adam arrived at my place and it was immediately clear that both members were trying to hold back their emotions and didn’t know what to do. With tears in their eyes, both members stated that they were afraid to leave their houses and were constantly looking over their shoulder feeling like the shooter was still out there and was a threat to their safety.

“Both members were placed on leave and Adam returned home to stay with family and Ajay travelled south to my house to stay with my family for immediate support until he could make it home to see his parents.

“The days that followed the shooting, several more members who responded to the shooting went off duty on stress leave which left the detachment critically short staffed.”

Justice Stahl said the impact of the targeted violence on the officers and the ripple effect on the passengers in the vehicle, the detachment, and the Tri-Community is without question.

“It is only by 'luck' – and I say this knowing in this instance 'luck' is a relative term – that no one was killed in the incident.”

This story by SaskToday first published June 16, 2024.

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