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'Suspicious death' in Behchokǫ̀ as RCMP explain gun lockdown

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RCMP said on Tuesday they are investigating "a suspicious death" in Behchokǫ̀ following an incident on Monday.

In a brief statement, police did not address speculation in the community regarding the nature of the incident.

However, in a later news release, RCMP said a lockdown in Behchokǫ̀ had been triggered by a separate report of a man with a firearm later that afternoon.

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No such man was found, police said, adding they don't believe there is any continuing threat.

The two, distinct incidents combined to create a panicked afternoon across the community.

Police said they could not release the identity of the deceased person, nor any detail regarding how they died.

"A male had been found unresponsive and was transported to the Behchokǫ̀ Health Centre," read Tuesday's RCMP statement, which said a police major crimes unit had been called at 1pm on Monday. "He was declared deceased and police began investigating the sudden death of a male."

The NWT coroner's office, which is assisting police in the investigation, said it could not publicly identify the deceased man.

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However, Behchokǫ̀ resident Nora Wedzin said her brother, Archie Wedzin, had passed away at noon on Monday and police were investigating his death.

"The investigation is in early stages with no further information at this time as officers conduct the investigation," the RCMP statement concluded.

A separate statement, issued later on Tuesday, clarified the nature of a lockdown imposed in the community on Monday.

"At approximately 3:55pm on Monday, RCMP received a report of a sighting of male walking with a firearm," the new statement read.

"As a precaution, RCMP initiated a secure-in-place and lockdown for the local schools and agencies. RCMP continued to search for the male, however he was not located.

"At 8pm, RCMP concluded the extensive search for the male and lifted the lockdown and secure-in-place."

Police said they were "unable to corroborate" the report of an armed individual and did not believe there to be an ongoing risk.

Though a link between the two incidents was not definitively ruled out, there was no suggestion of any connection in the police statements.

“A call of this nature can be very concerning for a community. Our officers responded quickly and were able to establish there was no immediate threat," said RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon.