Inquest into man’s 2018 death begins in Pond Inlet

Jessie Peterloosie died from self-inflicted gunshot wound after long standoff with police, jury hears

An inquest into the 2018 death of Jessie Peterloosie, 26, began Tuesday with testimony from family members and police officers who tried to communicate with him on the night of his death. (File photo)

By Madalyn Howitt

An inquest into the death four years ago of a Pond Inlet man has started with emotional testimony from his family and friends.

Jessie Peterloosie, 26, died March 8, 2018, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a long standoff with police.

On Tuesday, the jury heard testimony from people who responded to the scene, describing the circumstances that led to Peterloosie’s death.

On March 5 of that year, police received a call from Skyler Katsah, the girlfriend of Peterloosie’s cousin, Gary Peterloosie.

Kataska alleged Jessie Peterloosie had pointed a gun at Gary Peterloosie after they had visited Jessie at the house he shared with his parents.

RCMP officers went to Peterloosie’s home to talk with him but he wasn’t there, responding officer Const. Craig Armstrong testified.

It wasn’t until two days later, on March 7, that officers made contact with Jessie Peterloosie when they responded to a call at a house next door and spotted movement through his window, Armstrong said.

RCMP officers again knocked on the door, but there was no answer.

As they drove away in the police truck, Armstrong said, they heard a loud bang and later discovered what appeared to be bullet damage in one of the tires.

Armstrong said he and the other officers believed Peterloosie had shot at them.

This led to a nearly nine-hour containment situation where police returned to the scene and surrounded Peterloosie’s house.

Between 4 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. while police were containing the area, many of Peterloosie’s family members tried to go inside to talk with him, the jury heard, including his sisters, stepbrother, father and aunt, but the door was locked.

Shortly after midnight, a police emergency response team arrived from Edmonton and negotiators attempted to talk with Peterloosie in English to defuse the situation, Armstrong said.

At some point late in the night, a relative of Peterloosie was able to get inside the house and attempted to remove some guns that were inside the residence, the officer testified.

Shortly after the relative stepped out of the house, police outside heard a gunshot. Peterloosie’s body was later found inside the house.

An autopsy was later performed and an investigation by the Calgary Police Service concluded Peterloosie died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

More details of what happened on the night of Peterloosie’s death are expected to be heard in the coming days as the inquest continues.

Peterloosie’s mother, Seepoorah Allooloo, who was not in Pond Inlet at the time of her son’s death, testified that he was someone who was shy and liked to keep to himself.

She said she would like to see more Inuit negotiators brought in to help with similar containment situations in the future.

Allooloo said if her son had been able to speak his first language of Inuktitut with officers, there may have been a better outcome to the situation.

The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Peterloosie. The inquest jury’s recommendations are not binding, but are meant to be considered to prevent deaths in similar future cases.

The inquest is expected to run until Friday and hear from family members of Peterloosie, as well as RCMP officers and experts in suicide prevention and emergency response strategies and tactics.

The six-member jury will then issue its recommendations.

The inquest is being held at the Sauniq Hotel Conference Hall in Pond Inlet. It is led by coroner’s counsel Sheldon Toner and presided over by Nunavut chief coroner Khen Sagadraca.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of witness Skyler Katsah’s name. 

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