Canada

Rise in gun violence raises concern among first responders

EDMONTON —
Edmonton first responders are showing concern over a spike in calls involving gun violence throughout the city.

President of the Edmonton Police Association, Sgt. Michael Elliott, says summer 2021 has been especially alarming when it comes to the severity of violence within calls made to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and first responders.

“The whole summer, to be blunt has been a violent summer,” said Elliot. “I know that the calls are down and I know that’s probably attributed to COVID, but yet the violence within the calls we’re seeing are extremely high.”

According to EPS, 14 shootings took place in June with 57 per cent resulting in injury. That number jumped to 21 in July, with 62 per cent of shooting incidents resulting in injury. EPS seized 605 firearms in Edmonton during the month of July.

August’s statistics have yet to be released, but Elliot is calling the upward trend a new normal.

Two people were injured in Edmonton Sunday morning, following reports of multiple gunshots just south of Jasper Avenue.

Sunday’s incident followed a shooting last weekend in the city on Aug.29, which left one dead and six others injured. Two men have been charged with murder in connection to the incident.

Temitope Oriola, criminology professor at the University of Alberta believes a number of factors, such as the pandemic and unemployment rates can be attributed to the spike in violent crimes throughout Edmonton.

“It’s a whole list of factors that play off of one another,” said Oriola. “We’ve got to look at this within the broader framework of a pandemic, socio-economic conditions, (and) massive layoffs in the last year to a year and a half.”

Oriola says while the spike in violent crime in Edmonton is evident, he believes many of those crimes are not random, and often involve individuals who are already known to one another.

“These aren’t random acts of violence. It doesn’t help these victims, but the victims here are almost always known to the accused. For the everyday law abiding citizens, there isn’t so much worry,” said Oriola.

Elliot shared his concern over the increase in gun violence, especially when it comes to the public’s safety and the strain those incidents are placing on first responders.

“It really puts a lot of stress on the front line,” said Eliiot. “They’re going out wondering what is my next call. The calls we’re getting are weapons, firearms, it plays so much on your mind wondering about your own safety.”

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Ryan Harding.


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