National Newswatch

EDMONTON — An Alberta man is awaiting a next court date in Montana for allegedly crossing the border in a kayak and leading officials on a seven-hour chase through tough terrain.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a release that Tommy Plante of Edmonton faces a criminal complaint of illegal entry into the U.S. and possession of a firearm and ammunition while prohibited.

Court documents say RCMP spotted the 31-year-old's car north of the border on the evening of April 19 near Lake Koocanusa, a reservoir shared by British Columbia and Montana. The car had no licence plate.

Mounties told the Eureka Montana Border Patrol Station that the vehicle was abandoned. The keys were in the ignition next to a note reading: "Free Car, Enjoy."

The next morning, justice officials said RCMP sent another message informing border police that an orange kayak has been spotted on the east shore of Lake Koocanusa — south of the border. And they had found out that a kayak had been on top of Plante's car when it left Edmonton.

When an officer arrived to the area called Boat Camp, he saw smoke billowing from a campfire and someone moving around.

The officer got out of his vehicle.

"As he passed the hood of his vehicle he said, 'How are you doing? United States Border Patrol,'" court documents say.

They say the man took two steps toward the officer and picked up a rifle.

The officer ordered the man to put down the gun.

"'No one is taking my rifle,'" the man replied, according to the documents.

The officer asked one more time.

"I will not put it down, you put yours down," the man responded.

He then picked up a water bottle and fled into the woods, say the documents.

Multiple officers and a helicopter tracked the man for seven hours as he walked, climbed and crawled through timber and brush, the documents say.

When he was finally arrested, he had a loaded bolt action rifle and was carrying two knives.

Plante appeared in court Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto ordered he not be detained for longer than May 7.

"On or before May 7, 2021, the United States shall file a notice informing the Court whether the United States has elected to take Defendant into custody," says the documents.

The documents say Plante, who also goes by the name Joseph Sylvain Tommy Plante, has no immigration or criminal history but does have mental health issues.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2021

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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