4 witnesses say they saw a gun, in trial of 2019 downtown Whitehorse shooting

·3 min read
Police tape outside the Elite Hotel in Whitehorse, after a shooting on Dec. 1, 2019. Witnesses continue to testify as part of a trial into the event that night. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)
Police tape outside the Elite Hotel in Whitehorse, after a shooting on Dec. 1, 2019. Witnesses continue to testify as part of a trial into the event that night. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)

Four witnesses testified in court late this week that they saw a handgun the night a shooting took place outside a downtown Whitehorse bar in 2019.

Kamille Lemay, Alberto Gimenez and Josiane Lavoie were all outside The Local bar when the shooting happened in the early hours on Dec. 1. At the same time, Katherine Gallagher was parked outside the bar. Each witness said they saw an individual holding what they characterized as a handgun.

They were the first four witnesses to testify they saw one of two accused men under trial in Yukon Supreme Court wield a handgun outside the bar on Jarvis St.

John Thomas Papequash was critically injured after he was shot.

Malakl Kwony Tuel faces 13 charges, including attempted murder, discharging a firearm with intent to wound, aggravated assault and possessing a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm.

At the same time, a second man who was at the bar that night is also being tried. Joseph Wuor doesn't face charges in connection to the shooting, but does face five counts, including cocaine possession for the purposes of trafficking, and possessing a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm.

A loud pop

Lemay said she saw a man running toward her clutching a gun with both hands, after she heard a loud "pop" sound. She told the court he then made a sweeping motion with it, then appeared to reload the weapon. Lemay said the gunman proceeded to point the gun toward the victim, who was lying on the ground.

Lemay said that she tended to the victim, adding that his breath was getting "shallower and he was losing a lot of blood."

Lavoie said she witnessed a similar scene. After she heard a sound she originally thought came from a cap gun, she turned around to see an individual holding a firearm.

"I was just frozen," she said.

Defence appears to hinge on inconsistent testimonies

Under cross examination by Dale Fedorchuk, Tuel's defence lawyer, none of the witnesses stated they saw any guns being fired.

The examination appeared to focus on various inconsistencies between what the witnesses told the court versus what they told police shortly after the shooting. For instance, it seems Lavoie told police she was in a different location when she first heard gunshots.

Fedorchuk also tested the reliability of Gallagher who told the court she saw an individual who looks like Tuel fire a handgun.

But, Gallagher appears to have told the police something markedly different.

During her police statement, which was captured on video and played in court, she said she recognized the gunman as someone named "C.J." or "Craig," a man Gallager said she bought crack cocaine from in the past.

In court, however, Gallagher recanted, saying she no longer believes the gunman was C.J. but rather a man who looks like Tuel.

Gallagher also told police she was sober during the shooting.

In court, she told a different story, noting she was "coming down" from cocaine and marjiuana use.

The trial is slated to continue for about two more weeks.

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