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LETTER: Friend of Slocan's DeGroot calls for calmer heads and fewer rumours

Dear Editor,

It turns out that the man being hunted in Slocan is a person whom I know. He is actually a very good friend of (my partner’s). I have heard some ludicrous statements regarding this "psychopath" and the events over the past twenty-four hours, in fact I was one of the people spreading the rumours. I may not have made a huge deal out of it like I have read in some places, but I still posted that people should be aware that there had been "a shooting" based off of something I read in a thread that was local to the scene. Then today I heard that this "mentally unstable person was former special ops"... this coming from a neighbour of his. This is how things go bad REALLY quickly.

I was not at the scene of what went down, but I can clearly see how this story COULD have read two different ways. Peter is not a violent person, but he's not soft and fluffy either. He feels very strongly that the government is far too involved in our day-to-day lives and, as a person who believes that we as a society need to learn to be self-sufficient, actually practices what he preaches by hunting and raising his own animals for food. He has had implications with the government because of not following hunting regulations with permits and this is why the involvement escalated the way it did. What I gather from media (always the BEST source for non-sensationalized information) is that a neighbour called him in after having an argument over how he does his own butchering. If, then, the police approached aggressively or with weapons drawn, he would have taken off into the woods, as he would not be very trusting of the police. He is very comfortable in the wild and that would have been second nature to him.

My concern is that I can see the other side to this. If this neighbour called in an "argument" and said that this man has guns in his residence (one article says multiple firearms, which sounds awfully bad, even though my father has more than one hunting rifle... for hunting, in a locked gun cabinet) and then there was a shot fired when police arrived. I can see how right now, a police department who certainly doesn't have to deal with this type of thing very often, might be overreacting, or even just not understanding the entire scenario. How could they? But unfortunately, this will probably end badly. Peter is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I disagree with him in almost every conversation we have had, but those conversations are had with honesty and integrity. This is NOT a man who will go around randomly killing people, and I guess I want two things to happen here. First, I hope that people in the area can try to understand that regardless of how the situation is being handled, this is not a mentally unstable person who will just go on a shooting spree. But also, I hope that somebody can talk the police down a bit so that they don't shoot him on sight and things can be resolved. We are all a little too much on edge in this day and age and I fear that this is the first time, but not the last that people will be misunderstood and hunted down because we no longer trust the authorities and they no longer trust us.

If it helps people to sleep better knowing that he's not a horrible person or a psychopath on the loose, then all the better. And maybe it will mean he doesn't end up shot.

Andrea Bell

Nelson