WINNIPEG -- Two youths in a remote Manitoba community accused of intentionally torching an RCMP station did so as part of a bizarre plan to get arrested and flown to a Winnipeg youth jail to visit a pal who is also currently facing arson charges, prosecutors alleged this week.
And the suspected arson case comes at a time RCMP in remote St. Theresa Point, Man., are contending with an emerging crime problem where a "gang" of youths are engaging in a destructive ritual dubbed
"Bad Ass Sundays" as they mark out a weekly time to wreak havoc there, Judge Rocky Pollack heard.
The boys, 13 and 14, were collared after what's known locally as the "justice building," leased by the RCMP from the Island Lake Tribal Council, caught fire and was destroyed just after 4 a.m. Sunday, July 21.
The younger boy appeared for and was granted bail at the Manitoba Youth Centre (MYC) on Thursday.
He has no record or other pending charges and is presumed innocent. Pollack was legally bound under the Youth Criminal Justice Act to give him a shot at freedom with many restrictions attached.
He and his co-accused are suspected of picking the lock to the RCMP section of the side-by-side building with a paper clip then using matches and a lighter to torch paper and the back of the building,
Crown attorney Courtney St. Croix said.
When police caught up to the 13-year-old, he told them it was a joint arson attempt made to get out of the community and into the confines of MYC, St. Croix alleged.
"They both planned to get arrested to go be with (a third youth) in prison," St. Croix said of the youth's comments. The youth already in lockup is being held there for his suspected involvement in torching a community RCMP truck and the arena.
An RCMP spokeswoman couldn't provide a full damage estimate on Friday, but previously said damage to "RCMP assets" totalled about $20,000.
An adjacent structure used for storage by the band was also destroyed. There were no injuries.
These events are just a handful of recent crime issues in St. Theresa, court heard. The fly-in community with a population of about 3,000 is one of four comprising the Island Lake First Nation reserve, about 460 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
"RCMP in the area are particularly concerned because a group of young individuals seem to be establishing some type of a gang," St. Croix said. Mounties have caught wind of youths conducting destructive "missions" on Sundays, which some refer to as "Bad Ass Sundays," Pollack was told.
In opposing bail for the teen, St. Croix called the RCMP building fire an example of "brazen disrespect for authority." The alleged comments about starting the fire in order to get locked up are "pretty weak," she said.
"If they're willing to (allegedly) burn down an RCMP detachment to come hang out with their friend, I'm concerned about what else they'll be willing to do to bring themselves back to jail."