Victim of Yk sobering centre assault dies

Mark Poodlat, 36, identified as victim in 'tragic ' killing

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The victim of a brazen daylight assault outside of Yellowknife’s downtown sobering centre and day shelter has died.

The 36-year-old man has been identified as Mark Poodlat of Edmonton, Alta., police confirmed on Thursday.

He died in an Edmonton hospital, where he had been in critical condition, following a violent attack near the front steps of the facility on 50 Street.

The assault took place just before 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday.

Surveillance footage appears to show Poodlat being punched multiple times by an assailant before falling to the pavement.

RCMP and paramedics soon arrived at the scene and brought the victim to hospital before he was medevaced to Edmonton for treatment.

Victor Ugyuk, 32, has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault and breaching court-ordered conditions.

RCMP, alongside the NWT Coroner Services are investigating the death. An autopsy has been ordered.

The NWT RCMP Major Crime Unit is leading the homicide investigation.

Police are continuing to seek witnesses to the deadly assault.

Anyone who may have been in the area or witnessed suspicious activity near the downtown sobering centre and day shelter at the time of the incident is asked to call RCMP at 669-1111, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Poodlat, and also with our entire community as we grieve the tragic loss of a community member,” states Insp. Alex Laporte, commanding officer at the Yellowknife Detachment.

Violence and public disturbances in the area have remained a major sticking point between nearby business owners and operators of the downtown shelter since it first opened its doors in September 2018.

Tensions came to a head in April, when another daylight assault sent two people to hospital and emergency services shut down the majority of 50 Street as a result. When the dust settled, frustrations spilled over.

Fed up and fearful with the violence she was seeing, April Desjarlais, who owns the building next to the shelter, began uploading her own security footage of fights and assaults in front of the facility to Facebook.

An exasperated Desjarlais told media she felt it was her only option.

Others, including Mayor Rebecca Alty cautioned residents not to equate violence with the people who use the shelter.

Last week, an evaluation of the facility, prepared by the consulting firm DPRA Canada, outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the centre ahead of the building’s one-year anniversary.

The report noted that within five months of the shelter’s opening, the average number of urgent visits to Stanton Territorial Hospital dropped and there were fewer prisoners staying in RCMP cells.

The report also made calls to improve the program, including a recommendation to increase surveillance outside the building.

Following the release of the report, NWT Health and Social Services Authority representative Nathalie Nadeau told media some of the concerns outlined in the report had already been remedied, and that two patrol officers, tasked with patrolling the neighbourhood from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. had been hired in July.

In video footage of Tuesday’s assault, which was reviewed by Yellowknifer, no patrol officers were seen in the vicinity of the shelter for a 20 minute span.

A spokesperson for the NWT Health and Social Services Authority had agreed to field questions regarding the lack of security at the shelter, but Yellowknifer didn’t receive responses by deadline Thursday.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.

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