Woman involved in pursuit where police were shot at gets conditional sentence

A woman whose vehicle was used during a police chase where six shots were fired at officers pursuing them was given a conditional sentence to be served in the community.

Melissa McAlpine, 33, pleaded guilty in Lloydminster Provincial Court on May 5 to being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm.

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North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Oryn Holm and defence lawyer Don Smith entered a joint submission to the court for a nine-month conditional sentence. Charges of discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life and assault of a police officer with a weapon were withdrawn.

McAlpine and four others were charged after an incident on Onion Lake Cree Nation on Jan. 1, 2021.

Holm told the court there was no evidence McAlpine in any way encouraged the flight from the police or shooting at the police, and she was in the vehicle when the incident happened but not a willing participant. He said her culpability comes from the knowledge that there were firearms in the vehicle.

Holm said McAlpine was asked to give several people a ride from Lloydminster to Onion Lake on Jan. 1 to pick up CERB cheques and do some drinking.

“There’s no suggestion she is gang affiliated.”

Smith told the court that his client has been struggling with addiction issues but has been participating in counseling and is in an addictions recovery program.

Smith said during the incident on Jan. 1, McAlpine was nodding off and when she woke up they were in the RCMP officer’s farmyard. A 10-minute police pursuit followed and shots were fired at police. After police arrested the five occupants and searched the vehicle, they found two SKS rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, a sawed-off 22-caliber rifle and different types of ammunitions.

“The entire incident was absolutely terrifying for her,” said Smith.

Before being sentenced, McAlpine apologized to the court.

“I’m really sorry to the victims that were affected by my actions,” she said.

Judge Kim Young went along with the Crown and defence’s joint submission for a nine-month conditional sentence. She has a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and must not consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs.

Last week, her co-accused Tyler Ryan Wolfe, 35, from Onion Lake Cree Nation, was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of discharging a firearm, not stopping a vehicle while being pursued, and driving in a dangerous manner.

Police also arrested Danny Lee Weeseekase, 38, from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, Twaine Derek Buffalo-Naistus, 39, and Glynnis Larene Chief, 37, from Onion Lake Cree Nation.

Buffalo-Naistus was also scheduled to be sentenced on May 5 but the matter was adjourned at the request of his defence who told the court that he hasn’t had an opportunity to go over the presentence report with his client by phone.

“I was passed all over Saskatoon Correctional,” said North Battleford Legal Aide lawyer Cameron Schmunk.

Judge Young brought up the issue of Buffalo-Naistus’ legal last name, asking the accused, who appeared by CCTV, what is his correct last name. Judge Young told the accused that he couldn’t just change his last name without going through the official legal routes.

Buffalo-Naistus told the court his real last name is Buffalo. The Crown asked the court to amend the information to reflect that the accused’s last name is Buffalo.

Buffalo’s sentencing was adjourned to June 2, Weeseekase appears on May 13, and Chief’s trial is scheduled for July 5 in Lloydminster Provincial Court.

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