Stabbing in downtown bar
RCMP say fights in bars uncommon in Yellowknife

Kirsten Larsen
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 03/99) - Although RCMP say the downtown bar scene this winter isn't as rowdy as it can be during the summer, there have already been two stabbings in the last four months in addition to the regular fights taking place on downtown streets.

Sgt. Dave Grundy, RCMP district commander North, said fights usually occur out on the street where a few individuals get involved. What is different about the bar scene lately is that two recent stabbings occurred inside the bars, in front of everybody.

Police were called to the Gold Range last Friday at approximately 3:45 p.m. after a 39-year-old man had been stabbed during an argument with another man in the bar.

The victim was immediately transported to the hospital with a single wound to the stomach. Police said, judging by the jacket which was slashed in several places, the attacker had attempted several times to injure the victim.

Police pursued the attacker, who several witnesses had identified as being from the Ndilo area, after he had fled the scene, dropping the knife outside the bar.

John Andrew Boucher, 47, was eventually located near the Gold Range by RCMP and arrested. He was later charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

Police later recovered the knife used in the attack outside in the area of the Gold Range.

Two months prior to this incident, just one block away, a woman was stabbed in the back with a screwdriver while she was in the Right Spot Sports Bar and Grill.

The woman was stabbed around 1 a.m. Nov. 29 and was reported to have been in an argument with the man prior to the stabbing.

Alcohol was reported as being a factor in both incidents.

The owner of the Gold Range, Sam Yurkiw, said the recent stabbing in his establishment isn't, in his opinion, due to any increase in violence in the bars.

"Those things happen," said Yurkiw. "There's no bar violence. I see people pushing out on the street. I haven't had a scrap or fighting in here for years. We know who the bad ones are and we don't let them in."

Sgt. Grundy expressed his surprise that the most recent incident occurred inside the bar.

"That's unusual," he said. "We have had bar violence from time to time, but it's not a considerable amount. We don't (deal with) a lot inside the bars. If they (bar staff) see people getting out of line they get kicked out. Inside the bar (violent fighting) is fairly minimal, outside it's constant."

The violence that goes on in the street is often not extremely violent in the winter months because people tend not to stand around outside in the cold.

"If two people fight and get knocked down people standing around who aren't involved will give them a kick," said Sgt. Grundy. "There's a fair amount of that (in warmer temperatures) when more people are outside.

"Last summer there was a pretty bad one at the Raven before it closed down. It started in the bar then moved out onto the street. Two combatants turned several against one."

Sgt. Grundy said alcohol consumption is one of the main reasons behind the fights.

"In the downtown area there are a number of drunks that get that Molson courage, as I call it," said Sgt. Grundy. "People who would normally not say anything to pick a fight but get the courage when they have had too much to drink."

Over serving, he added, is something the police are constantly monitoring.

"They (RCMP) go in (to the bars) and if they see someone is intoxicated. They write it up and that goes to the (GNWT liquor licensing board)," said Sgt. Grundy.

As far as controlling weapons in the bar, the issue is one which isn't seen as becoming a regular concern. Yurkiw said it isn't very often that someone is found with a weapon in his bar.

"You can't search them," said Yurkiw. "If you see it hanging at their side, yes we take it. That's once in a blue moon."