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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Nine people stabbed to death, five killed in a deliberately set fire and an innocent grandmother’s body shoved in the trunk of her own car.


These troubling deaths are just a portion of Winnipeg’s climbing homicide cases this year. As of Thursday, Winnipeg has 29 homicides recorded, well above last year’s total of 22. Winnipeg’s deadliest year on record was 2004 when there was 34. “The numbers are a lot higher than we would like to see,” said Const. Jason Michalyshen, Winnipeg police spokesman. “It’s concerning to us, and it should be concerning to everyone.” The latest victim is Joseph Lalonde, 48, who was brutally beaten with a baseball bat. Two 15-year-old boys were charged with second-degree murder. A total of 10 youths have been charged in connection to the 2011 deaths. Michalyshen said it’s been a challenging year. “Our resources have been very busy making sure no stone is unturned, making sure that these investigations are investigated thoroughly, and arrests are made,” he said. Three cases are unsolved — Cara Lynn Hiebert, 31, was found dead in her home on Redwood Avenue on July 19; Baljinder Singh Sidhu, 27, was stabbed to death during a brawl on Osborne Street on Aug. 5; and 24-year-old April Hornbrook was found dead outside a building on Main Street on Aug. 27. Many violent crimes continue to occur in Winnipeg’s North End, a concerning stat for Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre). “The communities have to be working together and you don’t really have enough of that in the North End,” Smith said. “You have to have recreational activities, and ... I tend to think we should get more support for Citizens on Patrol.” Edmonton has the most homicides in Canada, with 34. Calgary has just three. “We’re very fortunate right now, but that could change before the end of the year,” said Calgary police Insp. Cliff O’Brien, who works in that city’s major crimes unit. O’Brien said there’s “no magical answer” for why the numbers are so low, but gave credit to the good work of officers and medical staff. Calgary police has a gang suppression team, who monitor entertainment districts, targeting known gang or organized crime members. “We have legislation here where we can kick people out if we can prove they’re associated with a gang,” he said. “That has helped us a lot.” O’Brien admits there’s a certain “element of luck.” “We’ve had those high rates before and I know that we will have those high rates again.”


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