In 64 seconds, three men die in Cambridge Bay shooting incident
Firearms and forensic experts give evidence at Nunavut triple murder trial
It took no more than 64 seconds for three men to die.
At the triple-murder trial of Chris Bishop that started in Iqaluit this week, the court, on May 27, heard a recording of a call from Bishop’s Cambridge Bay neighbour, Jeffrey Komak, to the Operational Communications Centre in Iqaluit.
The call’s time-stamp was 4:59:10 a.m. Iqaluit time on Jan. 6, 2007 – 64 seconds after the end of Bishop’s second call to the OCC, frantically asking for the RCMP to come and deal with people breaking into his house.
After waiting six rings for to speak to an operator, the caller’s voice said he had heard 10 to 12 shots fired on Kullik Road.
He said he could see four or five people outside, with one lying on the ground and one lying on the porch steps.
Justice John Vertes said he anticipated seeing Komak as a witness later in the trial.
Under cross-examination from Bishop’s defence lawyer, Scott Cowan, RCMP forensic expert Sgt. Ernie Dechant verified the time-stamp.
Dechant also said that RCMP members had not immediately secured the crime scene at 4B Kullik Road.
Dechant had earlier testified about shell casings scattered around the apartment after the shooting spree.
But under Cowan’s cross examination, Dechant agreed the shell casings could have been kicked around as people came and went before police secured the scene, so the locations where police found the casings doesn’t necessarily prove where shots were fired.
John Marshall, an RCMP firearms expert from Regina, testified that of the 25 7.62-millimetre casings found at the scene, 23 had been fired from a Norinko SKS-D semi-automatic rifle taken from Bishop.
That rifle is an unrestricted firearm, meaning it’s legal if the owner is licensed and the weapon is registered.
But the 30-cartridge “banana clip” magazine found attached to the rifle is not legal.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, magazines for semi-automatic weapons may hold a maximum of only five cartridges.
Marshall was able to identify four bullet trajectories as originating from Bishop’s bedroom. Two penetrated the north wall of Bishop’s apartment and entered a neighbouring unit.
Marshall said one of the four shots from the bedroom hit something else before going through the closet door and lodging itself in the closet’s rear wall.
Marshall investigated two more bullet holes he found in the plywood floor on the outer landing of Bishop’s apartment.
Both bullet holes were “secondary impacts,” meaning the bullets passed through something else before hitting the floor.
Marshall couldn’t estimate their trajectories in the same way as the bedroom shots, but said they had originated on the outer landing.
Marshall looked at bullet holes in the porch of 4A Kullik Road and traced one trajectory back to Bishop’s front step at 4B.
Marshall also discussed his examination of the clothing of Antoinette Bernhardt and Logan Pigalak, each of whom were wounded that night.
Bishop is charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting of Bernhardt and Pigalak, as well as three counts of second-degree in connection with the deaths of Dean Costa, Kevin Komaksiut and Keith Atatahak.
Dechant didn’t find any firearms among the deceased, but Komaksiut was found with the shaft of a broken golf club in his dead hand.
Marshall said Bernhardt’s parka was punctured through the shoulder, with the bullet’s entering through the rear of the garment and exiting through the front.
Pigalak’s jacket was damaged, and Marshall testified the bullet entered the front of Pigalak’s right sleeve and exited through the rear.
Once the jury had left the court, Cowan asked the judge to make a decision on a certain issue that cannot be reported on until after the trial is finished.
Legal decisions made while the jury is absent from the courtroom may not normally be published or broadcast until after the end of a trial.