'Pack of youths' charged following violent robberies in downtown Winnipeg

'Pack of youths' charged following violent robberies in downtown Winnipeg

Seven teenagers are facing charges in connection with a series of violent robberies by a group of young people armed with knives and a machete at The Forks and in downtown Winnipeg on Sunday night.

Const. Rob Carver said Tuesday the group of teens between the ages of 13 and 16 met at the city’s Central Park that evening with the “express purpose” of committing the robberies.

Carver said the accused began a “lengthy crime spree” that didn’t end until several of them ran onto a railway bridge over the Red River in an attempt to evade police.

“We believe it was a loose association of kids and early indications are they almost thought this was some kind of a game,” Carver said. “They’ve armed themselves with knives and machetes and gone out to rob people, terrorize people.”

In total, five people were robbed and three others escaped robbery attempts, police said.

With officers in pursuit, police allege, some of the teens ran onto the bridge near Shaw Park baseball field, where Carver said they “froze.” Police called rail lines to ensure no trains would be passing, and then enlisted the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service to get them down.

Carver said it doesn’t appear the youths were members of a gang, but several of the teens were already known to police.

“I can tell you that there were violent backgrounds within this group,” he said. “And I can tell you that we’ve got a lot of seasoned investigators and they were shocked at what was going on. I was, when I read it.”

Robberies at Forks Market, Johnston Terminal

Carver said the first robbery happened around 10:30 p.m. on Cumberland Avenue near Central Park. A woman was forced to the ground and threatened with a machete, then assaulted until she gave up her cellphone and money.

The victim received a cut that didn’t require medical attention, he added.

Roughly 20 minutes later, police say, the group robbed another woman of her purse and cellphone while brandishing knives on Main Street near St. Mary Avenue. She wasn’t physically injured.

Police say the group went on to The Forks Market where they tried and failed to rob three males.

They then moved on to Johnston Terminal, also at The Forks, police say, where they robbed two women and a man of their cellphones and other property.

The victims were threatened with knives and one of the women was pulled to the ground by her hair, Carver said. However, none of them sustained serious injuries.

Seven teens — two girls and five boys — were arrested, Carver said. Each has been charged with five counts of robbery with violence and remain in custody.

Police believe there may be other victims who haven’t yet reported the incidents to police.

“I want to tell you that this pack of youths, we believe, was larger,” Carver said. “We’ve arrested seven but there are some indications it may have indicated at one point as many as 15 youths.”

Anyone who may have been robbed or with information that may assist investigators is asked to call 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Published at Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:33:27 -0400