Winnipeg rocked by gun violence

CHRIS KITCHING, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:31 AM ET

WINNIPEG - After one child was killed and three others wounded in two shootings in as many days, Winnipeg's police chief is promising a neighbourhood a swift reaction to make residents feel safe.

Chief Keith McCaskill said more officers are being sent to the West End in response to a wave of violence in a pocket of the area.

Part of the response includes foot patrols, he said.

By increasing police visibility, the goal is to give people confidence the area is safe and the matters are treated seriously, and to curtail crime, McCaskill said.

"We have to get in there to stop anything from escalating and to bring these people into custody," he said.

McCaskill announced an arrest in a shooting which injured two sisters, aged eight and 10, at 542 Victor St. on Wednesday evening.

McCaskill said a 14-year-old boy known to police is in custody and additional arrests are possible.

He said the shooting wasn't random but declined to comment on the motive.

He said the girls weren't the intended target but wouldn't say if the bullets were meant for someone else in the house.

The 10-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. The eight-year-old was injured by debris, possibly broken glass, police said.

One shot pierced a window. Two struck the window frame. A witness saw a male armed with a gun fleeing the scene, a source said.

This shooting isn't related to the fatal shooting of Kyle Earl, 16, and wounding of his friend a block away on Toronto Street a day earlier, McCaskill said.

McCaskill said the street crime unit and community support officers are being put in the area in greater numbers but there won't be shortages elsewhere.

It's unknown how long the shift will last.

Some residents said the neighbourhood isn't what it's made out to be, but others said it's dangerous.

"It's a good neighbourhood where 95% are hard-working, good, wonderful people," said resident Kerry Flemington. "(The shooting) strengthens our resolve to stay because neighbourhoods won't change if we abandon them."

McCaskill said police are working with community agencies and government on long-term solutions to address crime and social problems in all of Winnipeg.

Mayor Sam Katz said residents should be angry and upset about the violence.

He said the federal government needs to change laws to allow judges to hand out stiffer sentences and keep violent criminals behind bars for longer periods.

McCaskill said the street crime unit and provincial probation officers are part of a strategy to keep tabs on certain gang members who are under court conditions in Winnipeg.

chris.kitching@sunmedia.ca


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