Victims, suspect in northern Quebec slayings were related

The three people fatally stabbed in Akulivik, a remote community in northern Quebec, have been identified as relatives of the man suspected in their deaths.

19-year-old killed by police after 3 fatally stabbed, 2 in hospital

Illutak Anautak, 19, has been identified by local officials as a man shot dead by police. (Illutak Anautak/Facebook)

A loud noise woke Jimmy Kaitak around 8 a.m. on Saturday. When he stepped outside he saw Illutak Anautak, known around the small northern town of Akulivik, Que., as a quiet young man with a heavy past. 

Anautak was on his phone, Kaitak said. He didn't think much of the scene, until he saw the knife that Anautak was carrying.

"It was scary," Kaitak told CBC News. "I hid. I didn't want him to see me."

From his home in Akulivik, Kaitak watched as someone ran away from Anautak. The fleeing figure covered several hundred metres before collapsing.

Officers from Kativik Regional Police arrived on the scene soon after, confronting Anautak with their guns drawn. 

Kaitak, the assistant town manager, couldn't see what happened next, but Quebec's independent investigations bureau (BEI) said Saturday that local police fired twice at Anautak, killing him. 

It was only several minutes later, when Kaitak and his girlfriend emerged from their home, that they realized the scale of the grisly events that had unfolded around them.

They opened their door to find the lifeless, bloodied body of their neighbour Eli Qinuajuak on their doorstep.
Illutak Anautak shared this photo on Facebook in August 2015 with the caption, 'No place like home.' (Illutak Anautak/Facebook)

'My heart is broken'

Also fatally stabbed were Anautak's uncle, Lucassie Anautak, and his young cousin, who was about 10 years old.

Two other victims are in hospital, but have since been downgraded from being listed in critical condition. Investigators said Sunday evening that the two people are out of the woods. CBC News is not naming these victims because one is a minor.

Provincial police, along with investigators with the BEI (which investigates police-involved shootings), arrived Saturday evening in Akulivik to begin their investigation.

The Inuit village overlooks Hudson Bay, some 1,700 kilometres from Montreal, and has a population of only 600 people. The grieving process there has only just begun. 

"My heart is broken. My mind is broken," said Eli Aullaluk, a town councillor and one of Anautak's uncles.

"This is not normal. I feel sorry for all the people in this community. Our prayers go them all."
Municipal offices in the community flew flags at half mast on Sunday. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

In a statement, Makivik, an organization that represents Quebec's Inuit, said it is "shocked and deeply saddened by the incomprehensible tragedy in this beautiful community.

"Things like this are not supposed to happen in our society. All of Nunavik is in mourning. Our thoughts and prayers go
to the families and people of this close-knit village," the statement said.

The events were all the more shocking for residents of Akulivik because the suspect, Anautak, had a reputation for being kind, if quiet. 

"He was always smiling, always friendly to me," Kaitak said.   

But Anautak's brother, 16-year-old Moses Chamberland Inukpuk, shared a number of Facebooks posts with CBC.

Their timing coincides with when Kaitak saw Anautak use his phone. 

In one post, Anautak wrote that he stabbed more than five people. In another: "I just don't care if I killed someone else."

Others who knew Anautak said he had been struggling to cope with his mother's death. She was murdered in 2014 by her boyfriend.
Investigators arrived in Akulivik Saturday evening. (Google)

​Cleaning up and coping

Kaitak spent several hours cleaning his neighbour's blood from his doorstep on Sunday. "We're a small community. Everybody knows everybody here," he said. 

Willia Nappatuk, Akulivik's manager, said the community is banding together following the tragedy.

"People are coming in today and tomorrow [from out of town] to pay their respects for the family but we don't know yet when the funeral will be," he said.

Premier Philippe Couillard said the Liberal MNA for the area, Jean Boucher, is currently in Akulivik to provide support.

"We know that social issues among the Inuits — First Nations in general, but Inuits in particular — are very, very significant and we're working very hard to improve that," Couillard said Sunday while attending a party event in Quebec's Saguenay region. 

CBC reached out to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for comment. They did not respond. Neither did Romeo Saganash, the federal MP for northern Quebec. 

Quebec's minister for native affairs, Geoff Kelley, declined an interview request from CBC.

With files from Antoni Nerestant