Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Flood victim gets six years for shotgun threat, attack

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A 24-year-old man, a victim of the 2011 flood, was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday morning for threatening to kill his girlfriend with a sawed-off shotgun and then firing the weapon after two restaurant employees refused to give him a cigarette.

Clifford Elliot Anderson apologized for his actions and in part blamed the evacuation of his community of Little Saskatchewan First Nation when it was flooded two years ago.

"I was abusing drugs and alcohol on a daily basis," Anderson told Court of Queen's Bench Judge Christopher Mainella. "I felt my life was over.

"After the flood evacuation everything got out of hand."

Court was told Anderson got the gun from an unidentified source when the community was evacuated and brought it with him to Winnipeg.

On Aug. 10, 2011 he got into a dispute with his on-and-off-again girlfriend at a city hotel after a bout of drinking.

Crown attorney Elizabeth Laite said the fight had to do with each other's fidelity.

"When they were together bad things happened," Laite said.

The woman called hotel security after Anderson pointed the loaded gun at her and told her that if she cheated on him, he'd shoot her.

Anderson tucked the gun in a duffel bag and left the hotel.

Hours later he approached two employees outside the Applebee's Neighbourhood Bar and Grill at 1598 Regent Ave. West in Transcona.

Anderson asked the two employees -- a 17-year-old boy and 41-year-old woman -- for a cigarette.

When they refused he offered to buy one, Laite said.

They refused again, prompting an irate Anderson to ask them if their refusal was due to his being native.

Anderson next pulled the weapon out of his waistband and yelled again at the two employees.

They fled inside the business when Anderson fired a single shot apparently into the air.

No one was injured.

The blast was heard by a number of people including police, who soon arrested Anderson at gunpoint.

Inside his duffel bag was the gun, ammunition and several cans of beer.

He's been in custody ever since. Under a plea agreement, Anderson admitted his guilt in exchange for the six-year, two-month sentence.

Anderson's lawyer Cam Pauls said a combination of being a flood victim and "hardcore drinking" were in part behind his client's behaviour.

Mainella said he sympathized with Anderson being displaced due to the flood, but that the risk to public safety because of his actions was high.

"I understand the flood did create hopelessness in your life," he said.

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