Editor’s note: The offender is not named in this story to prevent his girlfriend, the victim, from being identified by association.
A man from Qikiqtarjuaq has been sentenced to five years in prison after he fired a semi-automatic rifle five times into the residence where his girlfriend was visiting.
The offender, who was intoxicated, used a Simonov 56 SKS rifle as he penetrated the bathroom door handle with a bullet that carried on through the door frame and into the bathroom, through the sink. Another shot shattered a radio in the living room. Yet another shot entered the exterior wall of the living room. Two shots went into the ceiling.
His girlfriend had answered the door on that day, Feb. 24, 2019. She “swung her body back” and the gunman pulled the trigger shortly thereafter.
The man who occupied the residence escaped through a bedroom window, fearing that the offender would shoot him.
The RCMP arrested the gunman soon after the incident, although he was no longer carrying the weapon. He told the police that he was going to kill the man in the residence where his girlfriend was visiting. He had also opened fire on the snowmobile belonging to that man’s friend.
The Mounties recovered the semi-automatic rifle, an empty ammunition box and a trigger lock from the offender’s home.
His girlfriend, who has a child with the offender, provided a victim impact statement to the court. Since the shooting, she suffers from depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
“She feels anger and sadness. She struggles to cope with daily activities and has difficulties interacting with others. Her relationships with family and close friends have become distant,” the court decision states. “(She) continues to be fearful of (the lawbreaker) and is concerned about what will happen when he is released from jail and returns to the community.”
The offender, who pleaded guilty and was 23 years old at the time of the criminal activity, was raised primarily by his mother. He dropped out of school in Grade 7 and is essentially illiterate, according to the court. Nevertheless, he has worked fairly steadily and hunts to provide for his family.
In an interview with justice representatives, his mother said her son has anger issues and she admitted to being afraid of him.
“It was uncontrollable rage and jealously that contributed to the offending behaviour. Little seems to have occurred since the offence to temper those tendencies,” the court decision reads.
He was previously convicted of assault causing bodily harm in 2017.
The Crown prosecutor called for a five-year prison sentence for the latest crimes.
The defence attorney suggested that four to four-and-a-half years would be more fitting.
Justice Susan Cooper, who presided over sentencing on Dec. 14, noted that “the circumstances of the entire event were characterized by acts of intimidation and control. His girlfriend, the mother of his child, was the target of his bullying and violence. The domestic context of the offences is an aggravating factor, as is the fact that as an Inuk woman, his girlfriend is part of a vulnerable group.
“He pointed a loaded firearm at close range at his girlfriend. It was her quick thinking and not good planning on (the offender’s) part that put her out of the line of fire when the firearm was discharged just a moment after being pointed at her.”
The guilty party has approximately two and a quarter years remaining behind bars due to credit for time served while his legal proceedings transpired. He will be banned from possessing firearms for 10 years.