Pond Inlet man barricaded himself in house for 18 hours, inquest hears

Jessie Peterloosie, 26, died from self-inflicted gunshot wound after standoff with police in 2018

Jessie Peterloosie, 26, remained in an 18-hour standoff with police before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an inquest into his death learned on Wednesday. (File photo by David Venn)

By Madalyn Howitt

Jessie Peterloosie spent 18 hours in a standoff with more than 30 police officers before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an inquest into his death learned Wednesday.

Peterloosie, 26, died March 8, 2018, in Pond Inlet after barricading himself inside his house.

Sgt. Stephen Archibald was the lead for the Iqaluit RCMP containment unit in 2018. He told the inquest that he got a call from Pond Inlet RCMP around 4 p.m. on March 7 advising that an active situation was unfolding with an armed and barricaded man, and that shots had been fired at police officers.

The inquest, which began Tuesday, previously heard that Skyler Katsah, the girlfriend of Peterloosie’s cousin, had called police on March 5 to report that Peterloosie had pointed a gun at his cousin.

Two days later, on March 7, Peterloosie allegedly shot at the police car of officers who had come to check on him.

This kicked off a lengthy containment situation where police surrounded his house.

The RCMP plane wasn’t available, so the five members of the containment team secured a charter flight to Pond Inlet, arriving at 11:30 p.m. and relieving the three Pond Inlet officers.

While the containment unit was en route from Iqaluit, crisis negotiators in Iqaluit were trying to reach Peterloosie by phone.

The inquest heard an audio recording of four brief phone calls made by negotiators in Iqaluit to Peterloosie between 5:29 p.m. and 5:38 p.m.

“I’m not going down without a fight,” Peterloosie can be heard saying on one of the calls, as the negotiator on the line tries to communicate with him before Peterloosie hangs up.

Negotiators calling remotely from Edmonton were eventually able to keep him on the phone for an hour, Cpl. Phil Pinon testified, but Peterloosie’s tone remained “aggressive” and he was screaming into the phone.

“I’m not going to surrender. Someone’s going to die,” he said during one call with Pinon.

As the night stretched into the early morning hours of March 8, 23 members of an RCMP emergency response team flew in from Edmonton, arriving at 6:40 a.m.

“We were advised that there were 13 to 18 firearms in the house,” Staff Sgt. Ron Parker testified.

At 8:40 a.m., officers from the emergency squad placed an explosive at the front door and gained entry to the house.

That’s when “bullets started flying” out of the house, Parker said. He testified that no RCMP officers fired any shots.

Peterloosie had locked himself in his bedroom. Negotiators continued to call him, but he was “hostile” and hung up the phone, Parker said.

Gas canisters were set off at 9:17 a.m. in an effort to get Peterloosie out of the house to surrender.

Parker testified Peterloosie told negotiators on the phone that the gas “isn’t affecting me at all.”

Parker said extremely cold weather conditions that night, around -35 C, could have made the gas less effective.

Three shots were fired from inside the house around 9:25 a.m., and Peterloosie’s behaviour on the phone changed from “criminal barricade to possibly suicidal,” Parker said.

A man, later identified as Peterloosie’s uncle, went into the house and came out with a rifle and set it down on the snow, Parker said. The man went in a second time, brought out another rifle, then went back inside a third time.

When he came out, he was covered in blood. He told officers that Peterloosie had shot himself.

Parker said his team outside hadn’t heard the gunshot, but officers went inside and found Peterloosie’s body.

The inquest is expected to continue until Friday, when the jury will issue a verdict on the cause of death and offer recommendations to prevent deaths under similar circumstances.

 

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