Homeless man dies in alley scuffle

A homeless man from Aklavik, NWT, died from head injuries after fighting in a Whitehorse alley Friday night. Jason Selamio, 37, was killed either by a punch to the head or by hitting his head against a brick wall, according to sources familiar with the incident.

A homeless man from Aklavik, NWT, died from head injuries after fighting in a Whitehorse alley Friday night.

Jason Selamio, 37, was killed either by a punch to the head or by hitting his head against a brick wall, according to sources familiar with the incident.

“There’s two theories going around,” said Judy Lightening, shelter manager for the Salvation Army, just up the street from where Selamio died.

“He either hit his temple on the wall, or it was just a bad hit and he went out,” said Lightening, who heard the details from many of the shelter’s patrons.

“It wasn’t an act of revenge or anything,” she said. “It was just a drunken accident.”

Police disagree. They have charged Ryan Darbyshire, 24, with second-degree murder.

This means they believe Darbyshire intended to kill Selamio, although the attack was not premeditated.

At least four men and a couple of women were with Selamio at the time of his death.

The women tried to break up a fight, said Lightening, which happened before the Salvation Army opened at 6 p.m.

Selamio fell after receiving the fatal blow, but none of Selamio’s drinking buddies noticed he was out cold.

“They were all pissed,” said Lightening.

Selamio lay lifeless in the alley for an unknown period of time.

Meanwhile, a woman associated with the group fell down in the alley.

A neighbor called the police at 6:30 p.m., worried the woman had broken her arm, said Lightening.

When two RCMP officers came to investigate, they found Selamio’s body lying near the wall.

The officers questioned the people who were with Selamio. On Sunday evening, they arrested and charged Darbyshire.

“It’s been very stressful since Friday night,” said Lightening.

Both Selamio’s and Darbyshire’s families have been calling the shelter.

“We’ve got first cousins, uncles and nephews – everyone – calling,” said Lightening.

Lightening has been speaking with Selamio’s mother, who still lives in Aklavik.

Darbyshire is a good person and he wasn’t the type of person to get violent, she said.

“They’re grieving on both sides, in both families,” said Lightening.

Both men were known to suffer from alcohol addictions, she said.

The Salvation Army family has been in a somber mood since Selamio’s death.

Three patrons died in one week during the summer, said Lightening, but there was a chance for everyone to brace for that impact.

“When you have a death that’s classified as a homicide, it’s hard to respond,” she said.

The RCMP would not comment on the circumstances surrounding Selamio’s death.

“We can’t confirm or deny that,” said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Don Rogers, referring to claims Selamio was killed in a fight.

Selamio was taken to Whitehorse General Hospital before being pronounced dead.

There is no word on where his body will be taken. The coroner could not be reached before press time.

Darbyshire will make his first court appearance on Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of white roses and a note lay in the alley behind the Salvation Army, near the place where Selamio was killed.

“They’re street people,” said Lightening. “They live high-risk lives.”

Contact James Munson at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read