'When they're fearful about who's going to arrest them, we easily become a target.'

Drunken thug shuts down Inukjuak for 15 hours


An armed man on a drunken rampage caused the community of Inukjuak to shut down for 15 hours last week, after he uttered threats, shot at police and provoked a lengthy armed standoff.

Police say the man, who was heavily "intoxicated and very, very angry," held Inukjuak in limbo from the evening of April 29, until shortly before noon on April 30.

About 10:30 p.m. on April 29, police, assisted by Canadian Rangers, set up a perimeter around House 290 where the man was holed up.

That night, several surrounding homes were evacuated, while residents in other neighborhoods were told to stay inside. The next day, residents were told to stay away from workplaces, stores, schools and child care centres.

Three KRPF constables initially handled the standoff. During the middle of the night, three constables from Puvirnituq flew to Inukjuak to help out.

The Sûrété du Québec provincial police were informed about the situation, but did not send a special tactical team.

The man, who had several firearms in his possession, gave himself up to police without incident, police say.

Jaybedie Ohaituk, 22, faces several charges, including assault causing bodily harm, assault on a police officer, careless use of a firearm, disturbing the peace, and mischief.

This is second major standoff in Nunavik within the past month in which a community has been held hostage by a drunken gunman.

A previous incident occurred April 9 in Kangirsuk on Nunavik's Ungava Bay.

The standoff in Inukjuak also marks the second time in a month that members of the KRPF have been the target after a routine police call exploded into violence.

Police are not sure what sparked the Inukjuak standoff, but before police arrived on the scene, the man had been ransacking a residence.

His fear over being arrested may have escalated the man's reaction, police suggest.

"When they're fearful about who's going to arrest them, we easily become a target. People, when they don't know what they're doing, when they black out from alcohol, they think they want to eliminate their problem," said Jobie Epoo, the acting chief of the KRPF.

Faced with increasing levels of violent firearms incidents, Epoo said the KRPF plans to step up prevention programs this year.

Its first measure will be to introduce community public security committees.

But Epoo isn't promising any miracles, because he said Nunavimmiut need long-term education on firearms storage and drinking, as well as community-based action if they want to curb violence.

"It's a huge, huge challenge that has to be tackled by the whole region, the whole community. It's not only the leaders. It has to be people that are at home, who have to say ‘that's enough,' and make sure we address the problem not just talk about it," Epoo said

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