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Federal offender not found after Vernon police search

Man wanted by police has links to Armstrong and lengthy court records
A member of the Vernon & Area Community Forum on Facebook shared a photograph of the police incident that had a portion of Brooks Lane blocked off Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Vernon. (Cora-Lee Lulu - Facebook)

Police swarmed a home off Vernon’s Okanagan Landing Road in search of a man wanted across Canada for suspension of day parole. When officers finally gained entrance, the 30-year-old man wasn’t there but a loaded handgun was seized during the investigation.

Several police vehicles and armed officers clad in camouflage were seen around the residence on Brooks Lane around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19.

“Given the high-risk situation involving a federal offender and the possibility of a firearm,” Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said, “police officers contained the area and activated the South East District Emergency Response Team to assist with clearing the residence.”

Witnesses on scene reported they heard flash bangs go off around 7:30 p.m.

Police were searching for 30-year-old Robert Gordon Heltman, who has ties to the Okanagan. He is wanted countrywide for breaching conditions of his statutory release.

“The Southeast District Emergency Response Team are highly trained police officers able to deal with these types of situations.” RCMP media officer Cpl. Tania Finn said. “The safety of everyone involved is of the utmost concern for police.”

After several attempts to contact someone within the residence, the emergency responders entered the home. Although Heltman wasn’t located, police seized a loaded handgun during their investigation.

The situation around the side street off Okanagan Landing Road began to clear shortly after 8:30 p.m.

Neighbours watched the action unfold from their driveways and shared information with curious bypassers.

“Cops wouldn’t give out any information other than the situation was dealt with and that the residents could go to bed peacefully,” Facebook user Cora-Lee Lulu shared on the Vernon & Area Community Forum. “They were fantastic.”

Heltman’s court records date back 11 years to incidents in Vernon and Armstrong, charges include assault, possession of a weapon and theft under $5,000.

Ten years ago, Crime Stoppers was seeking information on Heltman as he was wanted in British Columbia for a breach of undertaking, assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, according to a Morning Star report published March 28, 2010.

A matching Facebook profile indicates he attended Pleasant Valley Secondary School in Armstrong.

Police continue to search for Heltman and anyone with information regarding the 30-year-old man are urged to contact the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP non-emergency line at 25-545-7171 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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Robert Gordon Heltman, then 19, was wanted by police in 2010, according to an article published in the Vernon Morning Star on March 28, 2010. (Vernon Morning Star file)