Calgary’s Police Chief Mark Neufeld has made an unequivocal call to Calgarians for support to address gun violence in the city, following a shooting that sent an innocent victim to hospital last week.
Speaking near the home in the community of Pineridge on Nov 1, he addressed what has become a brazen and problematic trend in Calgary: targeted shootings, largely related to organized crime, occurring in places where innocent bystanders could and have been hurt.
“I’m here today at the scene of last week’s shooting to appeal to the community, and specifically to those who have information that can help prevent this type of reckless violence in our neighbourhoods,” said Chief Neufeld.
“Part of the reason for coming out to this location was to be able to give you some sense as to actually how nice the neighbourhood is, how residential it is here, how calm it is, how close we are to the school. This isn’t the type of place that you would expect that we would be seeing shootings.”
An innocent person was shot at around 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, after a the original target for the shooting was chased and fled into a nearby residence. During the chase, offenders fired shots at the intended target, and struck an innocent bystander who was outside of their home.
That individual is now recovering from their wounds.
“This incident had the potential to end much differently. It had the potential to end much more tragically, and this is a tangible example of how organized crime puts all of us at risk,” said Chief Neufeld.
“We’ve said many times that the majority of the shootings that occur in Calgary are targeted, but this illustrates the risk that is there for all of us. So while it is individuals involved in organized crime and high risk lifestyles that are targeted in situations like this, it’s anybody that’s in close proximity that actually can be impacted, and could be caught in the crossfire.”
To date, there have been 83 shootings in Calgary.
Superintendent Cory Dayley, of the Criminal Operations and Intelligence Division at CPS, said that the investigation into Friday’s shooting continues, and that the investigation is still fairly fluid.
“We are well placed in the investigation, and communicating with the impacted victim that had no relation to the intended target in this case. We’re well placed with the conflicts that are going on in Calgary at this time,” Dayley said.
Community support needed to help solve crimes
Chief Neufeld said that CPS had victim support services in the neighbourhood on Monday to help provide calm and healing for community members.
"This is a safe neighbourhood. This is a neighbourhood that's very stable, where people have lived for a lot of years. There are many good people and so the neighbourhood hasn't changed in that sense,” he said.
"The message for folks is that Calgary still remains a safe city. But these things are happening, and they're happening in places that we wouldn't expect.”
People know their communities, and they can directly provide information to police, said Chief Neufeld, that can make their communities safe.
"If people are concerned about anonymity, and oftentimes that's what it is, people say 'I have information but I'm really concerned about retribution or that type of thing.' So Crimestoppers is excellent because Crimestoppers can offer that confidentiality,” he said.
He said that people can also phone the Calgary Police non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 to provide information directly as well.
Shootings in public areas, said Chief Neufeld, is a phenomenon that police services are seeing across North America.
He said that the shootings that are occurring are not in indication of a ongoing gang war, such as the one that occurred in Calgary in 2007 and 2008. The current shootings, he said, are often between individuals in organized crime and high-risk lifestyles.
"The problem with these type of situations, when the organized crime related, is that the oftentimes the the the answer or the retaliation for one particular shooting is planned in the emergency ward at the hospital,” he said.
"We need to step in and lean into this as a community, and make sure that we're working together to assist police with with even the smallest thing that we have to make Calgary as as hospitable for good people and visitors as we possibly can and as inhospitable for violent offenders as we can."
Guns coming from variety of sources
Chief Neufeld said that the guns that are being used in Calgary shootings are coming from a variety of sources, including those stolen from lawful gun owners, smuggled across the border, and from the growing issue with ghost guns and 3d printed firearms.
"We do very rigorous background checks and investigations into the firearms that we seize off the street. One of the reasons we do that is to try to connect them to other firearms crimes,” he said.
"I believe that there is a small number of people who are have the willingness in a city of 1.4 million, the number of people who would actually pull the trigger in an urban environment, is quite small. So you can appreciate that any pieces of evidence, like a firearm that we can investigate to link shootings together, is very important."
The reason why people are carrying guns, he said, was in direct relation to the high risk lifestyles those individuals live.
"People tend not to carry guns just for fun and be involved in that. Usually there's a connection to you know, some sort of other high risk lifestyle, whether it be drugs and gangs and [organized crime],” Chief Neufeld said.
He said that recent busts, like the pair that netted police $2.5 million in seized drugs, can provide some relief from violence indirectly.
"The individuals that were arrested and charged for those crimes there, they could easily be people that are involved in in shooting."