Unarmed cops barricaded inside police station during rampage

Gun-toting drunk roams free as 'Kangirsuk; cowers


A man who threatened to shoot two unarmed police constables terrorized the Ungava Bay community of Kangirsuk during the morning of April 9, driving around the community on his snowmobile with a 22-calibre rifle.

Many of the town's 450 residents cowered in their houses for hours.

Teachers remained locked up inside Sautjuit school with students, while the Kativik Regional Police Forces's two constables barricaded themselves in the community police station.

The two KRPF constables stationed in Kangirsuk are not qualified to use firearms, said Jobie Epoo, the KRPF's acting chief of police.

That's why they were told to go to police station for their own safety while the man entered houses around town, possibly in an effort to lure police away from the police station.

Shortly after noon, armed members of the Kativik Regional Police Force, who had flown in from Kuujjuaq, stormed the residence where the man had taken refuge and arrested him.

Police say the shooting spree started after a man threatened to attack police constables with a club on the evening of April 8 when they responded to a complaint.

The next morning, the same man threatened police with a firearm. Alcohol is also thought to have stoked the man's violence and police suspect he may have been high on drugs.

"Hard drugs regularly get into Kangirsuk," said Jobie Epoo, the KRPF's acting chief of police. "Ecstasy or cocaine may have been involved."

When his rifle dropped into the snow, the man rode his snowmobile back to his residence, where police feared he had access to other weapons.

Canadian Rangers and firefighters kept tabs on him until police reinforcements arrived from Kuujjuaq. Police worried that a child might be inside the housing unit with the man.

"That gave us no choice but to move in," Epoo said.

Police found the man inside, his hands on his head, offering no resistance.

Kangirsuk, a community renowned for its delicious Arctic char, is also known for numerous acts of senseless violence.

In 2005, an elder was raped, another elder was assaulted, and a group of youth, armed with two-by-fours and hockey sticks, threatened police, barricading the constables in their lodgings.

Over a 24-hour period in February 2006, a young woman was found dead, an elder died, and bullets whizzed around town.

"Whenever there's alcohol involved it's bound to happen. And there's a lot of alcohol these days in the communities. You never know what happens in any one of our communities," Epoo said.

Last summer in Akulivik, a female member of the KRPF barricaded herself in the community's police station after she found a threatening gang waiting for her at home.

Police in Kuujjuaq have also experienced threats and vandalism from gun-toting drunks.

This past week, Kuujjuaq police dealt with another gun-related incident as well as a violent, booze-fueled dispute between two family members, which left a man seriously injured.

Meanwhile, at Makivik Corp.'s recent annual general meeting in Quaqtaq, delegates that demanded police deal more forcefully in curbing the flow of drugs and alcohol into Nunavik. One speaker deplored that even some young children use drugs.

But Epoo said the KRPF can't open shipments unless they have search warrants and information to back up requests for search warrants.

"It's difficult to get information. People don't talk too much. Our hands are tied. If we don't have any credible information we can't move. We can't go to the plane and start opening boxes. That's illegal." he said.

Epoo said "a lot" of alcohol sent is sent to Nunavik by Canada Post, although that's against the law.

He suggested Nunavimmiut may provide confidential information about illegal shipments of alcohol directly to the KRPF in Kuujjuaq or to Infocrime, by calling toll-free at 1-800-711-1800 or by sending an email via the web site at www.infocrime.org.

Epoo said Nunavimmiut who provide information this way should be careful not to tell anyone else that they've called.

"These are very, very small communities. Word of mouth goes fast," he said.

Alec Nassak, who turned 26 this week, now faces at least eight charges related to the mayhem of April 9, police say. These include charges of causing a disturbance, dangerous use of firearms, and uttering threats to police.

In February 2006, Nassak, then 24, faced a total of 15 separate charges for assaults, pointing a firearm and uttering death threats. He was arrested in connection with incidents that occurred after a drunken party broke up and intoxicated guests took to the streets. Some, including Nassak, fetched firearms, which they discharged into the air.

Also charged in relation to last week's incidents in Kangirsuk are Jimmy Nassak, 37, for breach of a conditional sentence; and Stanley Carrier, who just turned 18, for obstruction of justice and breach of an undertaking.

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