Legacy of an outlaw

By: Korie Marshall

An impassable bridge with little chance of repair is just one part of the legacy left by a wanted man, shot and killed along Kinbasket Reservoir earlier this month.

John Jensen of Vancouver says he was part of a group of hunters camping at the Saddle Lakes, about 35 kilometres down the West Canoe Forest Service Road along Kinbasket Reservoir. They were evacuated by the RCMP on Tuesday, Sept. 17th, the day before a shoot-out resulted in John Buehler’s death and a gunshot injury to his daughter Shanna Buehler.

Jensen says they came to the Kinbasket area for the opening of hunting season on Sept. 10th, and spend three days on the east road, before it was closed for a planned bridge installation at Packsaddle Creek. They then spent five days on the west side, and found the bridge at Windfall cut up with a chain saw and partially burned. When he reported the damaged bridge to the RCMP in Valemount, they told him he couldn’t go back down the west road. Jensen said he had to return, his expedition leader was still at the Saddle Lakes, along with all their camp gear. The group received an armed guard to dismantle and evacuate their camp.

There were at least 50 cops, “armed to the teeth,” says Jensen, and a procession of about 20 RCMP vehicles, including horse trailers and ambulances, heading down the west road.

“It looked like a modern day version of the ‘Mad Trapper of Rat River’,” says Jensen, referring to an incident in the Yukon in 1931-32, where a trapper survived shootouts, bombings and -40 weather after killing two RCMP officers. The “Mad Trapper” was killed in a final gunfight on February 17, 1932.

BC’s Independent Investigations Office, who investigates all police incidents involving a death, was sent to Valemount on Sept. 17th after RCMP reported the death of one man and injury to a woman during a shootout.

Neither the RCMP nor the IIO have yet confirmed the man killed was John Robert Buehler, who was wanted after failing to appear in Valemount Court on Sept. 4th. Buehler was to answer charges stemming from a stand off with RCMP on June 19th, which resulted in the seizure of a number of guns and dogs. Buehler was known to be camping illegally with his daughter on the West Canoe Road. Owen Court, spokesperson for the IIO, which also investigates incidents involving or serious injury, says the RCMP have jurisdiction over the investigation involving the woman shot in the incident.

Sergeant Darren Woroshelo confirmed on Monday that 21-year-old Shanna Buehler, who has lived in the Valemount area for the past couple of years, has been charged with break and enter, mischief and two firearms related offences. He says a court date for first appearance has not yet been set, and to his knowledge she had not yet been released from hospital.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed on Thursday that a portable steel bridge had been installed over a damaged log stringer bridge for emergency response at Windfall Creek, and a temporary access was in place at the 10k bridge, damaged in a recent slide. The Ministry says the temporary bridges will be removed once RCMP has completed their activities, and restoration of access to the area would be up to the forest license holder, currently Carrier Lumber. At least two active trap lines will be inaccessible by road without the bridges.

Greig Bethel, spokesperson for the ministry confirmed there were two new slides on the West Canoe road on Sept. 25th – one at 12.6k and another at 13k – and a washout at the 16.4k mark on Sept. 27th. Bethel says that according to regional staff, the road has since been repaired at these spots, all of which are past the 10k bridge.

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