‘The violence we’re seeing is remarkable’: youths in care arrested following string of violent attacks

Three youths have been arrested following a rash of violent robberies.

“Alarming to all of us is the fact that these attacks appeared to be random. The attackers have been described as youths, and the attacks have been violent, directly involving weapons like machetes,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, at a news conference.

Four people were targeted in four separate attacks.

The first attack happened around 5 p.m. on March 10th at a bus stop on Riel Avenue and St. Mary’s Road. Police say a 19-year-old woman was robbed and attacked with a machete and sustained life-altering injuries.

“The violence that we’re seeing is remarkable,” said Smyth.

Police linked the same teen suspect to a robbery that happened on Tuesday night at Main Street and Rupertsland Avenue, when a 12-year-old boy on a transit bus was robbed at gunpoint for his cell phone. A 13-year-old boy was arrested downtown yesterday for the attack.

Also on Tuesday, police say a man was robbed by a group of youths on Main Street, near York Avenue.

Meantime, police say a 25-year-old male was also robbed with a machete on Monday while on Waterfront Drive, near The Forks.

“In this particular case, even though we’ve identified someone that we think is responsible. The victim in this case, doesn’t want to proceed with any involvement with a criminal investigation,” said Smyth.

The chief said the youths involved in these attacks are affiliated.

“The youths involved in these crimes were on the understanding that they’re known to each other. And many of them were together when these crimes were committed.”

Smyth also noted a broader connection between the underage suspects.

“All of them were in care, or in the system, none of them seem to come from stable homes.”

He indicated the crimes are part of a larger systemic issue.

“Those responsible for caring for the youths in these facilities. They don’t have the resources or the tools to meet the needs of the youth in their care. This means that the kids are left to themselves to go anywhere and do anything that they see fit. Now some of them are getting involved in crime, and some very serious crimes.”

As for how to establish a better path forward for the youths in question, the chief said it’s an ongoing issue.

“We can establish charges, they’ll be held accountable, you know, and dealt with under the Young Offenders Act, you know. But the reality is, they are kids, right. So they will be released from custody, they will be likely housed again, in another group home or another foster home. So this is an issue for us that we all have to kind of address here.”

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