Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 16, 2017 - 10:00 am

Armed standoff could have been “much, much worse:” Nunavut RCMP

A two-year-old child was inside home during Resolute Bay armed standoff

During June 14 an armed standoff between a man and police in Resolute Bay, the community of about 270 remained under a lockdown. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
During June 14 an armed standoff between a man and police in Resolute Bay, the community of about 270 remained under a lockdown. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

An 18-year-old faces charges related to a tense standoff with police that put the High Arctic community of Resolute Bay in a lockdown June 14.

Sheldon Oqallak, 18, faces charges of discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, resisting arrest and pointing a firearm at an individual, RCMP said in a June 15 news release about the incident.

According to the RCMP release, members of its detachment in Resolute Bay received a call at about 2:45 p.m. June 14 that there was an armed and barricaded person in House #117 and that shots from within this residence had been heard.

A two-year-old child was also inside the house, the release said.

The two RCMP members in this community of about 270 went to the scene where, the RCMP said, more shots were fired including one in the direction of the officers, who took cover.

The RCMP in Iqaluit then activated what’s called a “Critical Incident Command” system. This brought in trained crisis negotiators to contact the man inside with the goal of de-escalating what had become “an extremely dangerous and volatile situation,” according to police.

After more than two hours, the RCMP established contact with the man and, for more than an hour, “very focused communications” took place between the crisis negotiators in Iqaluit and the RCMP members.

These negotiations were enough to convince the man to give himself up and leave the residence without further incident, the release said.

The two-year-old was unharmed, the RCMP said, and is now safe with other relatives. 

“Our first priority in these matters is for the safety of everyone involved—both in the community and for our members on the ground. This could have ended much differently had it not been for efforts of our members, both in Resolute and in Iqaluit, who are trained to de-escalate these situations and quite often these end successfully without injury,” said Supt. Michael Babineau, officer In-charge of RCMP Criminal Operations for Nunavut. 

It could have been “much, much worse,” the RCMP’s June 15 release said, had police not been successful in their attempts at de-escalating the incident which ended “peacefully” at about 5:30 p.m. ET. 

In its June 15 release, the RCMP again reminded Nunavummiut about “the dangers involved when firearms are used in a careless manner, and/or in the presence of alcohol or other drugs.”

Last November, Resolute Bay also found itself under a lockdown during a prolonged standoff with police which also involved the RCMP Emergency Response Team from Alberta. That standoff ended when members of the team entered the residence in which the man had barricaded himself and found he was “unfortunately already deceased.”

The standoff and resulting lockdown in Resolute Bay on June 14 marked the fourth firearms-related incident in Nunavut during this past week about which the RCMP issued a news release:

• a boy, 11, was injured, but “stable” after June 12 Arviat firearms incident;

• an 18-year-old in Cambridge Bay man waved a pellet gun, then stabbed an RCMP officer who tried to detain him June 11; and,

• a 22-year-old man faces charges after allegedly discharging a firearm in Sanikiluaq June 9.

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