Gun violence sweeps across Ottawa

Ottawa Police are troubled by the recent spike in shootings across the city, but say the incidents are not necessarily a threat to everyday citizens.

 “The shootings aren’t random per se,” said Acting Staff Sgt. Jamie Aldrich. “We believe they’re targeted.”

In less than three weeks, 10 shootings have been reported within the city. The latest incident took place on Monday afternoon. Residents in the Carleton Heights neighbourhood reported the sound of gunfire and a fleeing vehicle near the intersection of Debra Avenue and Meadowland Drive.

Officers arrived at the scene shortly after 4 p.m. and began investigating immediately.

 “Evidence was found at the front window of the house, as well as inside,” said police spokesperson Const. Chuck Benoit.

According to Benoit, a single bullet passed through a ground-floor window and was discovered lodged inside an interior wall.

 Incidents like Monday’s cause Aldrich to worry.

 “We’re concerned an innocent person is going to get hit by a stray bullet,” said Aldrich

“My first thought was, ‘What if I had been there and witnessed that? Would they have been after me next?’” .

Fear causes changes in behaviour 

Chelsey (last name with held for privacy) is a 23-year-old education student at the University of Ottawa who lives just one block from the site of the Nov. 9 shooting at the corner of Besserer and Chapel Street. A 16-year-old boy was shot in the back during the incident.

“I thought Sandy Hill was a safer neighbourhood,” Chelsey said. “You know, a university neighbourhood – but now I’m always looking back.”

Chelsey walks her two large dogs — a Bernese mountain dog and a black lab — at least five or six times a day. She says she feels uncertain following the shootings and concerned for her personal safety.

“I actually felt like I was being followed home at one point a couple days after,” Chelsey said. “I don’t know if it was paranoia or anything. I just didn’t feel as comfortable as I had before.”

She wondered what might have happened had she decided to walk her dogs an hour or two earlier that day.

 “My first thought was, ‘What if I had been there and witnessed that? Would they have been after me next?’” 

Red:Fatality   Yellow: Injury   Blue: No Injury

Concerning numbers

 Aldrich, who’s responsible for the Guns and Gangs Unit, expressed concern with respect to the recent increase in shootings and gang related activity.

“Young males seem to arm themselves if they face conflict,” he said. “This seems to be a growing trend, not just here in Ottawa, but in North America.”

In 2015 alone, Guns and Gangs investigations have led to 837 separate charges against 69 individuals. The Unit has also seized 66 “crime guns” this year – up from a total of 53 seized in 2014.

 No arrests have been made in connection to Monday’s incident, and police have yet to name any suspects.

The file is now in the hands of the city’s Guns and Gangs Unit.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Guns and Gangs at 613-236-1222 ext. 5050, or by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Author: Brian Hill

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