If a tree falls in the forest and no ones around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If youth involved homicide in Winnipeg spikes and the media doesn’t bother to report it, does anyone care?
That’s a question we need to ask ourselves given that we’ve seen what may be an unprecedented spike in youth involved homicide in our City this year.
On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the Winnipeg Police Service issued a press release reporting three young offenders had been charged in the Cities latest killing.
Police reported Jordan Thomas (18) and his brother, yet to be identified, were both viciously attacked and stabbed multiple times in a north end assault that occurred the previous day at 2:35 a.m.
Patrol officers found the fatally injured men in a field, both unconscious, only one of them breathing.
Officers attempted CPR but their desperate life saving efforts failed.
Thomas’s brother remains in critical condition in hospital.
Police reported a 17-year-old boy and two 14-year-old girls were charged in the grotesquely violent attack.
I know what you’re thinking;
“How is it that three teens were out at 2:30 a.m., mid-week on a school night?”
It’s a fair question.
The answer offers a degree of insight into the problem.
Thus far in 2017 the Winnipeg Police Service has charged a total of nine (9) young offenders in connection with homicide cases.
The charges laid run the gamut from 1st degree murder to 2nd degree murder and finally, to the lesser offence of manslaughter.
As one Detective put it, young offenders in Murder City have essentially “hit for the cycle” this year.
In comparison, youth involved homicide cases over the last several years have followed a relatively predictable low trajectory, save for 2016, a year where no young offenders were charged in connection with homicide investigations.
Youth Involved Homicide – City of Winnipeg
- 2016 – no young offenders charged
- 2015 – two young offenders charged
- 2014 – two young offenders charged
- 2013 – four young offenders charged
- 2012 – four young offenders charged
- 2011 – ten young offenders charged
In 2011, the Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit investigated a record forty-one (41) homicide cases.
(You don’t have to be an actuary to recognize the numbers from this year are troubling. Only one additional young person charged in 2011 in a year the killings were almost double what they are for the current year.)
So whats going on?
That’s a question I bounced off the WPS but unfortunately received no response.
In the past, the police have cautioned against forming opinions based on random spikes in crime or yearly fluctuations. They suggest taking a wider view of crime based on several years of hard data collection.
Earlier this year, Chief Danny Smyth blamed a rise in violent crime on the drug trade and criminal street gangs. Could it be these influences are inflating statistics involving youth involved homicide?
Police indicated at least one of the youth involved killings this year was gang related.
That doesn’t explain the spike.
In 2015, there were no young offenders charged in connection with gang related homicide cases.
In 2014, a 16-year-old male young offender was charged in connection with the gang related shooting death of Rustom Vito Paclipan (23).
In 2013, two of the four youth involved homicides were gang related.
On February 15, 2013, B-Side gangster William Edward Moar (24) aka “G-Money” was shot and killed at Johnny G’s restaurant on Main Street.
Police subsequently charged rival gang members Akech Dut Ajak (22), Morgan Van Bone (19) and a fifteen (15) year old male young offender with first degree murder in connection with the killing.
On April 2, 2013, just after 4:00 pm, Nigel Dixon (20) was gunned down in a brazen broad daylight shooting in the 500 block of Langside Street. A woman in his company was also shot but survived the random attack.
Police subsequently charged Mad Cowz gang member Anthony James McClements (17) with 2nd degree murder in connection with the killing.
McClements was originally sentenced as a youth under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) after Queen’s Bench Justice Colleen Suche decided he needed to be treated with “kid gloves.” Fortunately, the Court of Appeal saw McClements for the dangerous, unrepentant killer he was and slapped him with a big boy life sentence.
Is this just an anomaly?
Is it a trend?
Is it a spike?
Is it nothing to be concerned about?
Spike or no spike, trend or no trend, street gangs or no street gangs, drug trade or no drug trade, it seems to me what’s going on this year, at the very least, merits a conversation.
2017 Youth Involved Killings
- January 3, 2017 – Tyler Kirton (25) shot to death – a 16-year-old male youth charged in the killing.
- February 6, 2017 – Canon Beardy (28) killed – Joshua Leclerc (19) and three male youths were charged in the killing – a 17-year-old, 16-year-old and 14-year-old. (The cause of death in this case was not disclosed.)
- August 6, 2017 – a 17-year-old male youth stabbed to death – a 17-year-old male young offender charged with manslaughter.
- August 27, 2017 – Tyler Ranville (18) stabbed to death – a total of 3 adult offenders and one 16-year-old male youth were charged with manslaughter in the killing.
- December 23, 2017 – Jordan Thomas (18) stabbed to death – a 17-year-old male offender and two 14-year-old female offenders charged in the killing.