Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.
A downtown apartment building was the scene of what Yellowknife RCMP called a “suspicious death” on Aug. 20, and a man who says he witnessed the fallout from fatal incident is speaking out.
Upon arrival at Aurora Pointe at 42 Con Road, officers found the body of a man who was pronounced dead at the scene.
No arrests have been made and there has been no indication from RCMP of a suspect or person of interest.
But there is someone who says he knows what happened. That’s because he says he was there and saw the aftermath.
Drew Houweling was the only witness to come forward and provide police with a first-hand account. He sat down with Yellowknifer and shared details of what he told officers.
“I heard a gunshot. I could hear a child screaming and crying,” he recalled. “I started banging on the door. Right when I was looking at my hand to bang on the door again, a second shot went off. I heard someone hit the ground. A girl opened the door and the shooter and an Indigenous guy came out. I held them in the door.”
Houweling said his girlfriend entered in the hallway from their apartment because she was wondering what was going on.
“I (told her to) call 911, to stay calm, there’s been a shooting,” he said. “I thought, ‘This victim needs help, he’s bleeding out.’ So I let those guys go. They ran away.”
That’s when he said the shooter went to the right of him and the other man ran to the left of him down the stairwell.
“When I let them go, I looked down into his handbag, and I noticed the gun was still loaded and the safety was off,” he said. “I saw the victim on the ground, male. I wouldn’t even say he’s even 30 years old, maybe 26 to 30 at that.”
Houweling said he got down on the floor and checked the victim’s vital signs.
“Then I got on the phone with 911 and was talking to dispatch,” he said. “It took the RCMP about nine minutes to get there, almost 10 minutes. I asked on the phone for permission if I could touch the victim and (the dispatcher) said yes. (The dispatcher) said, ‘Can you do chest compressions?’ I said, ‘I think it’s past that point.’ (The victim) looked right at me and he’s holding my hand and I said, ‘Hey, man, everything’s gonna be OK.’ And he looked right at me, took his last breath, and then died.”
A couple minutes later, Houweling said officers showed up.
“There was blood all over the floor and kids crying,” he said. “There was a guy on the couch (inside an apartment). I remember seeing that. And then the child was sitting there screaming. There was a haze in there and the smell of it, it stunk so bad. I’ve never smelled anything like that in my life and my eyes were burning. I don’t know what it was.”
When asked if he gave police a description of who he suspects committed the shooting, Houweling said he did.
“When I gave the description to the forensic artist, right when she was done the picture, she said, ‘Close your eyes’,” he said. “When I saw the picture, it was like looking into the (alleged) killer’s eyes again.”
Houweling said the person he believes committed the shooting had short curly hair, no facial hair, black skin, big brown eyes with long eyelashes, and no visible tattoos.
When asked what kind of firearm he alleges was used in the shooting, Houweling said the weapon in the handbag was a black handgun.
He also said he saw just one gunshot wound in the victim, located in the chest, near the collarbone.
Houweling added that he’s not fearful of retribution and he wants people to know that there are still good people in the world and in the community.
Yellowknifer asked the RCMP for a copy of the drawing of the alleged killer, an update on the progress of the investigation based on Houweling’s testimony, and if there was anyone else who came forward to testify. The RCMP Major Crimes Unit advised that the matter was “still actively being investigated” and that the police “are not currently in a position to release any information.”