Two men held in connection with separate deaths in POV
No plans to ban alcohol, mayor says
Two violent, and possibly alcohol-related, deaths within 24 hours have left Puvirnituq battered and wondering how it can prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
The deaths occurred last weekend in the village of 1,200, but details remained incomplete as of Nunatsiaq News press-time.
Both the Kativik Regional Police Force and the Surêté de Québec confirmed the first incident occurred on Friday June 13 around 6:30 p.m. when a middle-aged man physically assaulted an elderly woman. The woman died shortly after and police arrested the man on assault charges.
The second death took place the following evening and led to the arrest of another man on second-degree murder charges.
An initial press release by the KRPF said alcohol was involved in both incidents but the SQ would not confirm this.
Paulusi Novalinga, mayor of Puvirnituq, said the community remains shaken by the unexpected and violent deaths.
“It is a shock to the whole community. And being a small community, we have a history here. We are descendants from the same families. Even though we may not share the same names. Everyone is thinking of either the victim or the accused,” he said.
Novalinga said he believed alcohol was involved in both deaths but, though he said some preventative measures needed to be stepped up, he had no intentions of banning all alcohol from Puvirnituq.
Puvirnituq is a restricted community and does not allow individuals with a history of violence or drinking problems to order in shipments of alcohol.
“If we make the community completely dry, there will only be more underground activities,” he said. “We have to stop the bootleggers. It is a major problem in all communities. It’s a big business throughout the North.”
In the meantime, the SQ is continuing its investigation into both incidents, Chantal Mackels, a spokesperson for the provincial police confirmed Monday.
Mackels offered limited details of the incidents.
“The first suspect went to the family residence where his mother was with his sister. He had violent words with his mother and then he aggressed her physically,” Mackels said.
The sister called the local KRPF detachment and when officers arrived on the scene they found the 66-year-old victim without any vital signs, apparently the victim of a cardiac arrest, Mackels said.
The victim was transported to the hospital but attendants could not revive her. Lydia Emaruituk was pronounced dead roughly an hour later. An autopsy was to be conducted late this week.
The KRPF apprehended the suspect and then called in the SQ, which is responsible for murder investigations in the region.
The KRPF press release said the man was found in a “drunken state” and suggested “an illegal shipment of alcohol in Puvirnituq contributed to the two violent deaths.”
But Mackels could not confirm alcohol was involved in either case, saying the SQ’s preliminary report did not mention this.
Early the next evening, regional police again responded to an emergency call. At approximately 6:30 p.m., KRPF officers received a report that a dead woman was lying out on the street, the victim of a fatal gunshot to the head.
Shortly after, the officers again called on the SQ investigators, who were preparing to return to Montreal, Mackels said.
“The suspect had a verbal altercation with the victim. He left and then went inside to his place and grabbed a 12-gauge gun,” she said.
Elisapi Assapa, 31, was pronounced dead later that evening.
Two men were arrested in connection with the separate incidents. They were transferred to the detention centre in Amos and formally charged by a justice of the peace on June 16.
Lazarusie Qaqutuk, 39, faces a simple assault charge in relation to the June 13 death of Lydia Emaruituk. He faces a maximum sentence of five years.
Christian Leblanc, crown attorney for the case, said he may raise the charge to manslaughter or murder after an autopsy and the SQ investigation are completed.
Levi Novalinga, 41, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Elisapi Assapa. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
Novalinga will be detained until his bail hearing Sept. 8 in Puvirnituq. Qaqutuk should have a bail hearing by the end of next week.