Winnipeg logged its 27th homicide of the year on Wednesday with the death of 39-year-old Sukhdool Singh Gill and it’s once again raising some concerns around safety in the city and causing a lot of speculation as to what may be causing these homicides.
Gill’s death is now the fifth to be under investigation by the homicide unit in less than two weeks and very little is known regarding the circumstances of the killings.
Global News did reach out to the police for an interview on Friday but they declined the request and would not confirm whether any of the recent cases have suspect links to gang activity.
Additionally, they were asked what the stats are regarding random crime in the city and they told Global News they do not keep track of that.
Community outreach worker Mitch Bourbonniere says when victims are found inside a home, as two of them were, it definitely raises the question.
“When someone goes to a residence, and a homicide is committed with a gun, then to me, that sounds like it’s more premeditated and targeted and possibly gang-related.” he speculated.
Over the past few years, the number of homicide victims in the city has been increasing with last year setting a new grim record at 53 lives lost.
Bourbonniere says much of that increase appears to involve drug-related crime.
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“We have, affluent, non-affluent, suburban, inner city, young, old, all walks of life are affected by the opiate crisis,” he added.
However, another issue facing the city seems to be the increase in youth crime. Karen Weibe works with victims’ families and she says there’s a growing problem of youth becoming involved in crime.
“The machete attacks and shootings and stuff like that, knifing attacks that are going on are terrible and they’re with very young people,” Weibe said.
“Often we’ve seen youngsters as old as 14, I think 14 and 15 years old, involved in homicides. So there’s a real spike in violence and it is involving more and more young people.”
Weibe told Global News her own son T.J. was murdered in 2003 after getting involved in that world. She says for families who have been touched by the world of violent crime, any news on more homicides is a reminder of that pain.
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“Then you hear about it happening to someone else’s child, and it’s, ‘Oh my goodness, I know exactly how terrible this is going to be for them,’ and your heart sinks.”
Another thing plaguing people is the lack of progress toward arrests in regard to these homicides as across all five incidents in the past two weeks, only one arrest has been made.
Weibe says she doesn’t agree with the narrative that the crime is only localized mainly in the North End of the city as the statistics show that not to be entirely true.
“It’s happening in North Kildonan. It’s happening in St. James and The Maples. St Vital. Fort Gary, it happens everywhere. You cannot try and make it a North-End problem because it isn’t.”
Bourbonniere says the crime is symbolic of the drug crisis that the city is in. “We have the opiates and we have meth and they’re related but different and to me, all crime goes back to the drug trade, to drug usage, to psychotic behaviour under drugs.”
— with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian
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