Agatha Eaglechief says she lost her son to gangs
CBC News Posted: Jun 21, 2017
Agatha Eaglechief says she watched helplessly as she lost her 22-year-old son to the violent world of Saskatoon gangs.
Her worst fears came true this week. Austin Eaglechief never came home for his 10 p.m. CST curfew on Monday night and, by morning, his mother was hearing reports of a chase and fatal crash with a stolen truck.
She woke up to the news and thought, “Oh no. I hope that’s not him.”
Police confirmed Austin was behind the wheel of a stolen truck that rammed a police cruiser and was involved in a chase with gunshots that ended with a crash at Circle Drive and Airport Drive just after 9 p.m. Monday.
Agatha said her son had been involved with gangs since his teens, first with the Terror Squad and most recently with the Indian Posse.
She said that he had also served time in both provincial correctional centres and the federal penitentiary.
The frequent beatings meted out by gangs left him with head injuries that lead to anxiety and depression, she said.
‘I can’t wait to die. I can’t wait.’
Agatha said her son tried unsuccessfully to escape the gang life. In the end, she said that he saw only one way out.
“Finally, a month ago, he says, ‘I can’t wait to die. I can’t wait.’ He kept telling everybody, and just like he knew he was going to die. He was tired of working for these guys,” Agatha said.
She is still trying to process her son’s final hour. She is alarmed that officers fired on the stolen truck when they had it penned in the cul-de-sac at Clearwater Place.
She believes they overreacted.
“I’m just saying, why would they have to go and shoot at him numerous times, right in that core neighbourhood? Anybody could have been walking or shot,” she said.
Police said the truck rammed a police cruiser, pushing it about 30 metres, off the cul-de-sac and into a driveway. An officer responded by firing two shots at the stolen truck.
Austin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at Circle Drive and Airport Drive. Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said on Tuesday it does not appear the 22-year-old’s death was related to a gunshot wound, but his cause of death has not been confirmed.
Weighill said police have a strict policy on when to initiate or end pursuits. He said the urgency of apprehending the driver had increased after a constable was injured by the truck ramming.
Agatha is now left with having to bury her son, and wonder what might have been.
“We gotta get back into our culture, into our tradition of smudge, pray, powwow, sundance,” she said. “Making sure that my kids are going to get that right treatment.”