Whitehorse Daily Star

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Left: Constable Mike Buday and his dog Trooper. Photo courtesy of the book “Descent into Madness”. Right: Mug-shot of Michael Oros at the Terrace RCMP detachment. Photo courtesy of the book “Descent into Madness”.

RCMP Dog handler suspect die in shoot-out

A reclusive bush man shot an RCMP dog handler dead yesterday before being killed himself by another officer in a brief shoot-out in the remote southern end of Teslin Lake in northern British Columbia.

By Whitehorse Star on March 20, 1985

Const. Michael J. Buday, 27, was part of a fully-equipped RCMP assault team that flew into the area yesterday to arrest the hermit-like trapper, Michael Oros, know variously as “Crazy Mike” or “Sheslay Free Mike” after a reported cabin break-in.

Described as deranged and violent, Oros, 33, had been living by his wits in the wilderness for several years. An immigrant from the U.S., Oros was known locally to be paranoic, believing the world and especially police were out to get him. (See separate story).

Oros, known as a crack shot, opened fire as team members moved in, hitting Buday before being gunned down by another member of the rifle-equipped team.

Oros latest, and final, run-in with the law began Monday morning.

A Whitehorse family went by snowmobile to check the cabin at the southwest tip of the lake, said Cpl. Al Mathews of the Whitehorse RCMP. They hadn’t been there since last fall. “They discovered it had been lived in.” Possessions were missing and some damage had been done to a total estimated value of $7,000.

They also saw Oros in the area.

“They saw him walking up a trail, through binoculars. They recognized him and chose not to stay around.”

The family returned to Teslin to report to police.

Monday afternoon, Teslin RCMP flew down the lake in a chartered plane to look at the cabin. They spotted Oros walking along the lake ice and flew in for a close look.

Oros shot at the aircraft, a Maule flown by Dennis Dennison of Coyote Air Service of Teslin. Oros was know for disliking aircraft and has reportedly shot at others before, so it’s unlikely he shot at the plane knowing it carried police officers. He did not hit the aircraft.

The plane returned to Teslin and reinforcements were called in. A warrant for Oros arrest, on suspicion of break and enter, was obtained. Because the cabin and the aircraft shooting were in B.C. it technically did not come under the jurisdiction of Yukon RCMP. So a 13-member emergency response team was flown in from the Prince Rupert subdivision.

They flew to Whitehorse Monday night, and flew to Atlin and then Teslin yesterday morning just after 7 a.m. Those flights were all on board the Yukon RCMP’s Twin Otter.

RCMP Supt. Robert Currie, commander of the Prince Rupert subdivision, said Oros was “well known to us, with a history of violence and instability.”

“The extra police (were) a precautionary step in light of the suspect’s previous history of violence and instability and because of the isolation and snowbound nature of territory involved,” said Mathews.

“He would hunt meat, steal from cabins, things of that sort. He had lived there for half a dozen years at least, mostly out in the open. We believed he sort of borrowed cabins sometimes. He was pretty tough. You’d have to be tough.”

Two Bell 206-helicopters carried six members of the team and the police dog down the lake, said Matt Conant of Trans North Air, who piloted one of the helicopters. The other belonged to Capital Helicopters of Atlin. Meanwhile, Dennison’s Maule was also along with Inspector Harry Wallace on board running the operation by radio from the air.

Oros was apparently spotted again on the lake. The team appears to have arrived in the area around noon. So far, few details have been made public.

“There wasn’t much in the way of any cover or anything like that,” said Mathews. “It was just open snow.”

Conant said the two helicopters were directed to land around a point from where Oros was spotted, about 50 kilometres south of the Yukon border. The aircraft landed and the team began to move in on Oros.

“We didn’t put down in sight of him. We put down around the point. He’s crazy. I wasn’t getting too close with the helicopter... I didn’t," Conant said.

But Oros had certainly heard the helicopters, Conant said. Conant took off again and neither saw nor heard the shooting. The other helicopter returned to Teslin to pick up more of the team.

The shooting of Buday occurred at about 1 p.m., RCMP say.

Mathews said that because the incident happened in an unconfined area, the team was broken down into smaller groups.

Conant said that from the description of team members, the scene was off the edge of the lake in bush and Oros appears the have managed to ambush the groups with Buday.

“I think they were together and I think Crazy Mike came up behind them somehow and caught them by surprise. He shot first.”

Mathews said another member of the group with Buday quickly returned fire, killing Oros, who was armed with two rifles.

“It was almost right away. Another one of the members returned fire right away.”

The team was equipped with weapons including rifles with high-powered sniper scopes, megaphones, and a weapon that appeared to be a tear gas gun.

Bob Bruneau, manager of the Yukon Motel visited a cabin last year near Teslin Lake where Oros frequently stayed and found it littered with books and bizarre notes about Albert Johnson, the Mad Trapper of Rat River, who killed two RCMP officers in 1932 and was eventually tracked and killed by police.

Buday has been with the RCMP for eight years, and had special training in dog-handling and in emergency response tactics. He was based in Terrace, B.C.

A native of Brooks, Alta., he was single and is survived by his parents, two older brothers and a 15-year-old sister.

“When Michael was in Grade 11 a Mountie came to the high school and gave a talk to the students about careers with the RCMP,” his mother, Margaret, said by telephone Tuesday night.

“From that day on he was determined to be in the RCMP.”

He completed the force’s dog-handling course - graduating with his dog, Trooper, his constant companion - and was slated to return soon to the Prince George, B.C., detachment, where he had served earlier in his career.

When most of the response team returned to Whitehorse late last night, Trooper was taken away by the RCMP’s Yukon dog handler, Brian Boleen.

Buday was the second RCMP member killed this year, Const. Allen Giesbrecht, 32, died Jan. 13 in an incident at a house in Vegreville, Alta. Nine police officers were killed in Canada in 1984.

Mathews said the bodies have been flown to Prince George for autopsy and an inquest will be held into the shootings. Insp. Wallace returned to Teslin today to head up an investigation of the incident. Several members of the team had remained in Teslin last night.

By Massey Padgham, Staff Reporter

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