Calgary reeling from the effects of violent gun crime
By Matthew Hillier, Staff Writer
Calgary Police are currently investigating its 97th shooting of the year. According to CTV News, the incident occurred in the early evening of Aug. 23 when witnesses saw a white car pull out of a parking lot after shots were heard. A man, only known to the police, sought treatment for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound at the Peter Lougheed Centre after the incident. On record, he is the victim of the city’s most recent incident of gun crime as of writing.
This incident comes during the current investigation of a shooting in an abandoned home in Crescent Heights on Aug. 20 that left a 55-year-old woman dead. This was then followed by another shooting on Aug. 21 at the Ambassador Restaurant and Bar on 17th Ave— the victim unfortunately passed away while police were attempting treatment.
Almost a week before the 97th incident, a shooting also occurred in Evergreen where the police have charged one man. The victim of this shooting, Nakita Baron, was survived by her husband who was with her and also shot during the incident. Baron was an alumna of Mount Royal University and according to CBC News, had plans to continue her studies at University of Calgary to become a doctor.
Dr. John Kortbeek, a trauma surgeon, has seen these type of injuries first hand and in an interview with CTV News stated how they can impact a hospital’s resources.
“Victims of firearm injuries often sustain severe and multiple injuries. They’re very sick people. They require a huge team to look after them and they’re resource-[intensive].” Kortbeek told CTV News.
“It also affects individuals, not just at the time of their injury, but for years afterwards. Many of them have long-term disability, assuming they survive.”
In this time, Calgary has already elapsed the total number of shootings for all of 2021. The true scale of this increase is still being calculated as only the statistics for the first quarter of the year are available to the public.
So what caused this recent spike in gun crime?
Calgary Police say that the summer months of July and August have seen spikes in violent crime due to many factors, but this new trend’s frequency has been unlike previous years.
Compared to other Canadian cities, Calgary’s provincial neighbours in Edmonton have seen 93 this year, with Ottawa and Vancouver seeing 40 and 61 respectively.
From an interview conducted by CTV News, former Vancouver gang squad detective Doug Spencer said, Calgary and Vancouver are linked when it comes to gang activity and this relationship may be a factor in the increase in gun crime.
“You can see the run-off between Vancouver and Calgary in Kelowna, which is where they meet. It’s a corridor where they exchange guns, they exchange drugs from province to province,” Spencer stated.
According to Calgary Police, the majority of these shootings have been reported to have been targeted shootings. Only a quarter of these incidents are related to organised crime, meaning the rest are domestic or interpersonal-related shootings.
At the time of writing, there have been 3118 victims of violent crimes in the city of Calgary which are solved with a clearing rate of 55 per cent. Calgary Police crime statistics found that in the first quarter of 2022, weapons-related charges, such as possession and trafficking has seen 137 incidents with a clear rate of 92.7 per cent.
A recent example of this new focus on weapon enforcement, according to Calgary Police Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik, are the seizures of over 300 non-restricted rifles and shotguns and restricted firearms such as handguns.
In addition to combating the increases in the availability of illegally obtained firearms, government officials are also looking to increase community resources. The goal of the resources is to prevent residents and vulnerable groups such as youth with language barriers from turning to violent crime.
Citizens are encouraged to contact the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line for information and leads at 403-266-1234. Anonymous tips can also be provided to Crime Stoppers via their website, calling 1-800-222-8477 or using the app P3 Tips.