Man handed 9.5-year prison sentence for shooting at RCMP during pursuit

A man was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison for shooting at RCMP pursing him and four others on Onion Lake Cree Nation New Year’s Day.

Danny Lee Weeseekase pleaded guilty today in Lloydminster Provincial Court.

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North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Oryn Holm and Saskatoon defence lawyer Chris Gratton entered a joint submission.

The court heard that 38-year-old Weeseekase has 75 prior criminal convictions.

“That is very, very sad,” said Judge Kim Young.

Judge Young said Weeseekase isn’t beyond redemption and there could be some hope for him in the future.

“But as Mr. Holm points out, usually in their old age people slow down and they don’t have the energy level to keep up the criminal activity but that’s not so with Mr. Weeseekase. He just keeps going like the energizer bunny. That is very, very unfortunate.

“Protecting the public for as long as possible is a major, major factor in sentencing; to keep Mr. Weeseekase away from other members of the community so he can’t harm them,” said Judge Young.

Crown’s position

Holm told the court he has no doubt that Weeseekase has had a hard life, which gives context to his crimes but added that he has “had almost every type of court intervention you can think of and so far it hasn’t worked.

Holm said he wanted to point out that Weeseekase had an unnecessary suffering to animal charge in 2019.

“We know what case law says about this,” said Holm, adding that Weeseekase has anger and addiction issues.

Holm said there are Gladue factors but the Crown is of the opinion that denunciation, deterrence and protection of the public was paramount and the Gladue factors don’t override them.

Holm told the court that during the police chase on Onion Lake on Jan. 1, 2021, Weeseekase, who was in the front passenger seat, leaned out the window of the SUV and shot at the pursuing RCMP officer.

During the 10-minute police pursuit at least six shots were fired at RCMP officers. The suspected gang associates sped through Onion Lake, past two schools and a medical clinic in the mid-afternoon. Holm said vehicles swerved to avoid the SUV.

After police arrested the five occupants of the SUV they found two SKS rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, and a sawed-off 22-caliber in the SUV.

Defence’s submission

Gratton told the court that Weeseekase, from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, spent time in foster care and was sexually assaulted.  His hair was also cut.

“That’s a very significant factor for an Indigenous individual to have his hair cut,” said Gratton.

His parents were involved in residential day school and he was in a residential school in Duck Lake. When he first got involved in the criminal justice system he was in the North Battleford Youth Centre and was assaulted and sexually assaulted.

“He had a very troubled life and got into trouble after that,” said Gratton.

Weeseekase, however, managed to maintain employment most of his life, mainly in the oil industry.

Gratton said Weeseekase doesn’t do hard drugs but has alcohol addiction issues and has little recollection of that day.

Weeseekase’s charge of theft of a vehicle from Loon Lake was included in his global 9.5-year prison sentence. He was given 203 days credit for the 155 days he served in pre-trial custody.

Weeseekase’s co-accused

Twaine Derek Buffalo-Naistus was scheduled to be sentenced on May 5 but the matter was adjourned at the request of his defence lawyer Cameron Schmunk who told the court he wasn’t able to go over the presentence report with his client by phone because he was “passed all over Saskatoon Correctional.”

Glynnis Larene Chief, 37, from Onion Lake has a trial scheduled in Lloydminster Provincial Court.

Melissa McAlpine, 33, pleaded guilty on May 5 to being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm. She was given a nine-month conditional sentence.

In April, Tyler Ryan Wolfe, 35, from Onion Lake was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of discharging a firearm, not stopping a vehicle while being pursued, and driving in a dangerous manner.

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