NEWS

Iqaluit shootout questions unanswered 3 years later

01/05/2015 08:19 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST
A New Brunswick man hit by a stray bullet during a shootout in Iqaluit in 2011 says he’s still waiting for answers from police about what happened, and who shot the bullet that struck him in the head. 

It happened on a Wednesday around 4 a.m. during a shootout between Iqaluit RCMP and a suspect they say had pointed a firearm at them. 

"I woke up with a very, very sharp pain in the back of my head followed by shooting pain," says Arthur Wilson, who now lives in Moncton. "I heard a couple of gunshots and realized I’d been struck by a bullet."

At the time, Wilson, now 27, had been in Iqaluit for just two weeks working for Arctic Ventures and was living in staff housing just behind the store. 

Wilson rolled out of bed and crawled to the back bedroom where his sister, her fiance (now husband) and their six-month-old baby were sleeping. Another roommate was also in the building. 

"I banged on the door and shouted, 'Get down on the ground, bullets are coming through the house.'" 

Then he realized he was standing in a pool of blood. He lay in his sister’s lap, believing he was going to die. The baby slept through the entire thing. 

Wilson was taken to hospital where doctors used five staples to close the wound. 

Wilson says that night changed his life. Since then, he’s seen several therapists and been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He says he still has flashbacks, and often has trouble going to sleep.

"If you’re driving a car and you get in a real bad accident, you might not want to drive your car ever again," he says. "This happened while I was in bed sleeping — the most innocent thing a person can do — and I almost die from sleeping." 

Still no answers

Three years later, no one has explained why those bullets came into his room or whether they were from police or the man they were trying to apprehend.

"They still haven't disclosed really what's going on with anything," Wilson says. "I still haven't really had answers to many, many questions."

The shootout happened on November 23, 2011. 

RCMP say they responded to a call about gunshots early in the morning in Iqaluit’s 100-block area. RCMP said when officers arrived at the scene, they were confronted by a man who pointed a firearm at them. Shots were fired and the man fled.

Police said they found the man a short time later near house 238, bleeding from the chest area. The suspect was taken to the Qikiqtani General Hospital where he was treated for injuries. 

Yellowknife RCMP were called in to investigate with oversight by the Ottawa Police Service. CBC contacted both of them, but they have yet to release the results of their investigation.

A youth was later charged in relation to the incident. 

Lawsuit filed

Wilson says he’s filed a lawsuit against the government of Canada and will be seeking damages.

"I'm not looking for a million dollars or to become rich overnight," he says. "I just want what's right. I don’t know what a human life would go for or what the pain and suffering would go for, but I’m sure there’s something." 

Wilson says managers at Arctic Ventures were very supportive. He went back to work shortly after the incident, staying in town for a full six months before returning home to New Brunswick. 

But he says he still has the scar and gets pains in his head. He’s only lived in basement apartments since leaving Nunavut. 

"I"m just always worried about what’s going to happen.”

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