More must be done to curb the “wild, wild west” gun violence in northeast Calgary, said an area councillor, just as the Calgary police lay charges in one shooting death and see information in another shooting.
One person was shot and killed in the 1400 block of 52 Street NE on Monday, and two others were injured, prompting police to hold a media availability to address a rash of shootings over the past week. Calgary police have now said that two brothers have been charged in connection with that case.
The brothers are aged 14 and 18 and were found after locating a black truck that was later abandoned at Chinook Centre. That led them to two residences where they took multiple people into custody before arresting two people.
The 14-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, police said. The 18-year-old is charged with one count of accessory to murder after the fact. Neither can be named because the 14-year-old is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the 18-year-old is related and naming him would identify the youth, police said.
In another incident at around 4:05 a.m. on Nov. 11, multiple people broke into a residence in the 800 block of Abbotsford Drive NE. Once inside, the suspects allegedly assaulted two adults and demanded money and other items. As the assailants fled, multiple gunshots were fired, hitting neighbourhood homes.
Calgary police believe there were as many as four people who raided that home and they’re looking for more information.
The latest arrests were the result of joint work between the Organized Crime and Offender Management Section, Calgary police said. The police also attribute the quick arrests to the community sharing information.
“This is an incredible example of Calgarians and police working together to hold people involved in gun violence accountable,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson of the CPS Homicide Unit.
“The support we received from witnesses coupled with the extraordinary response from our patrol officers and HAWCS, was instrumental in progressing this investigation. Organized-crime-related homicides are historically the most difficult cases to solve, and because of the quick action from citizens and our police officers, charges are pending.”
Bullets are flying, councillor says
Ward 5 city councillor Raj Dhaliwal said we’re seeing more shootings in Calgary suburbs while much of the public safety focus has been on downtown Calgary and on public transit lines.
“They’re happening – bullets are flying all over the place,” he said.
“It’s unacceptable. We are becoming the wild, wild west, and we need to do more about it.”
Coun. Dhaliwal said he isn’t necessarily advocating for more police funding to put boots on the ground. While more money for police might help, Dhaliwal said that with upcoming budget deliberations, the city has to put more money into filling social equity gaps.
He’d also like to see a shift in policing; more coordinated work with community associations, social agencies and cultural groups.
“That’s why the sense that we do not belong in the city is getting more ingrained in people’s mind and especially kids growing up when they see inequity between the city,” he said.
“Guess what, they want to go and do things that sometimes are not acceptable, and they do end up being victims’ prey to these predators who use them.”
Dhaliwal said that he’s had conversations with Calgary’s Chief of Police, Mark Neufeld, and he’s been assured that more is going to be done.
“(The)Chief has assured me that next coming year, they’re going to work more closely with these groups, with community organizations and and have more of a holistic approach to this,” he said.
“So hopefully something comes out of it.”
Shaken Calgarians’ sense of safety
In Monday’s media availability, Calgary Police Service (CPS) Acting Deputy Chief Cory Dayley said that these shootings were likely targeted with links to organized crime activity.
“Over the past four days, our officers have worked incredibly hard to respond to several brazen incidents of gun violence that have shaken many Calgarians’ sense of safety in the city,” said Dayley.
“Each one of these incidents has occurred within a community, some in broad daylight and some narrowly missing innocent bystanders. We know that Calgarians are shocked and concerned that these incidents will have lasting impacts on our community.”
Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal, whose riding covers these areas, said it’s “heartbreaking” to see the impact this gunplay is having on residents. Chahal was a key cog in launching Calgary’s Public Safety Task Force to advocate for solutions to gun violence in Calgary when he was a city councillor for Ward 5.
He said they worked hard to get cash from the federal government through the Building Safer Communities Fund. Today, there’s still work to be done, Chahal said.
“We need to focus on, as we’ve done with crime prevention, to make sure that our children are safe in our communities,” he said.
“This is a city-wide problem. It’s a problem across the country that we’re facing and challenged with.”
As he’s said in the past, Chahal reiterated that getting guns off the street is the biggest issue. He said both legally (then later stolen or purchased through straw buyers) and illegal guns present a massive challenge for police services. Chahal also said we need to enforce red-flag laws that ensure people who shouldn’t have guns, can’t access them.
Bail reforms are also on the federal government’s radar, Chahal said.
“That’s one piece, but having guns on our streets that criminals are using to target individuals throughout our city, across the city, and across the country is a major problem,” he said.