There was a double shooting in Mistissini on Saturday, May 24th. The assailants, Clifford Joly 23, and Eric Meskino 19, unloaded a combined total of over 30 rounds. Various buildings in the community were shot during the rampage. One firefighter was injured.
Both men are to be charged with criminal acts ranging from assaulting a police officer, intent to wound, maim or disfigure a person, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In all, fifteen charges were laid against Joly, and eight against Meskino.
Police received a call around 5:40 from local residents that someone had a gun and was firing it around their area. At 8:30 that evening, Joly was spotted shooting in the air, and into the ground by a police officer. At 12:45, Mistissini Police with the aid of Chibougamau Surete de Quebec ended the standoff at Joly’s residence, approximately seven hours after it began. During the shooting spree, Joly shot up the police station, a police cruiser, a firefighter’s trailer, the band office, and a local motel. Damages were estimated to be in the vicinity of $15-$18,000.
A volunteer firefighter received a light wound in his arm from a shotgun pellet. No serious injury was sustained.
Staying in the hotel at the time was Josee Foucault, a housekeeping teacher. She was shaken by the incident, and said that she doesn’t feel like staying there anymore. Police never did a formal interview with her concerning what she saw.
The bullet holes, broken door, and broken glass near her room tell part of the story.
The police received a call at 3:40 concerning the same type of incident involving another community member, Eric Meskino, 19. Seven hours after the standoff started, Meskino gave himself up. No one was injured despite 89 rounds being fired by Meskino.
Calvin Blacksmith, the Mistissini Police Chief said that rattled community members have very strong views about what should be done in a case like this. “We had a call-in show to gage the reaction of the community members, and some said that the people who endanger lives of people in the community should be banished.”
That is a rather harsh view, but Blacksmith says incidents like this happen four to five times a year, and need to be stopped for the people in the community to feel safe.
Judges need to be harsher in dealing with these people as well. Ever since the supreme court ruled that there needs to be more leniency towards race, color, and creed came down in 1999, it’s become harder and harder to put these criminals away for long periods of time. When a judge makes a decision, he must take into account the individual’s background.
Even with all the charges against them. Blacksmith knows he’ll see them on the street in a few months or so.
“Last year there was a similar incident in August and after eight months the assailant was released. A couple of weeks later, he was arrested again.”
As for dealing with these situations, Mistissini police are looking to expand their training. Tactical operations, and hostage negotiations could be necessary given the frequency of these incidents.
John Longchap, chief of Mistissini said one way of dealing with it for the short term is to ban alcohol coming into the community until the band council, along with the people can come up with a longer-term solution.
“I don’t think there’s a 100% solution to preventing these things from happening. Almost every household has a gun. Individuals that consume alcohol can vent their frustrations through these acts.”
Counseling is available for those who need it, according to the Chief. “Our community has been traumatized, especially the youth, and especially the people that were in the vicinity where the shootings occurred.”
As far as Longchap is concerned, increased spending on policing and other issues might help, but like anything else money’s not the only answer to this type of problem.
The band council, in cooperation with the police are planning on going door-to-door to make sure people are aware of how to properly store their firearms.
“We know part of it is a social issue, so we’re going to assess what kind of solutions or support we can provide to people that may be experiencing something (problems) that we don’t know about.”
As in most cases, it’s only a handful of people who are making this community of 3000 look bad.
“We have a lot of good things in the community that we can be positive about. If we work together as a community, we can create a better community. If we deal with the issue in a positive way, our community will always have a positive outlook,” said Longchap.