Ottawa Police Chief says gun violence priority number 1 for his force

With 12 shootings in 26 days, Ottawa’s mayor and chief of police are anxious to rewrite the headlines.

We now sit at 12 shootings, two of them murders.  That's almost one every other day since the beginning of January.

Police chief Charles Bordeleau says the gun violence is a number one priority for his force.

Ottawa's first shooting came just days into the start of the New Year.  January 3, shots were fired in the city's southeast end near Halifax Drive.  Fortunately, no one was injured there.

Then, the next night in Little Italy, there were multiple calls to 911 about shots fired near Rochester.  A short time later, a man shows up with gunshot wounds.

And so the month of January goes; a shooting almost every other day. 

“Stray bullets flying around, that's pretty scary stuff,” says a resident near one of the shootings.

The city's first murder of the year happened January 9th.  23-year-old Tarek Dakhil was shot outside his home on Paul Anka Drive. He was known to police; they believe his murder was targeted.

22-year-old Adam Perron becomes the city's second shooting homicide 9 days later, after a shooting in his apartment building in Centretown.

Today Ottawa police briefed the mayor and some councillors on the spate of shootings. The chief says the victims are all targeted with drug trafficking and intimidation as the motive

“They're not targeting neighborhoods,” he says, “They are targeting themselves, it’s very mobile and fluid type of events we are dealing with so that presents some challenges.”

Bordeleau says the other challenge is that often many of those arrested end up back on the street.

“For the safety of the community, when we charge individuals with serious criminal offences that are causing serious concerns to our community, we would like to put them where they belong and keep them in jail.”

Bordeleau says the gun violence is a top priority and the police force has been realigned to focus on it. But Ottawa’s mayor says the public can play a role too.

“Parents have a responsibility,” he says, “If you see your child wearing a Rolex or driving a fancy car that they couldn’t possibly afford, it is time to ask questions.  It cannot always be the state or police enforcing this.  There has to be some responsibility at home.”

Police say they are counting on the public's help to report suspicious activity or to start neighbourhood watch programs.

The challenge though is convincing people to speak up in a climate of fear.