Ottawa's mayor calls gang members 'cowards', after weekend of violence
It's been an Easter weekend of violence in our city; two stabbings and two shootings and a community on edge.Now, one councillor is urging Ottawa's Police chief to re-evaluate the guns and gangs strategy.
According to police, we are now at 26 shootings since January 1st. Almost all of them gang related and that's prompting Ottawa councillor Rick Chiarelli to say it's time to re-examine whether the police approach to gangs and their guns is working.
The police tape is gone outside Les Suites hotel and it is business as usual in the Byward Market as people enjoy their Easter Monday. But a weekend of violence is high on the minds of many.
“I think it's really shocking, living here all my life,” says Ottawa resident Cassie Carson, “when you see something happen so close to where you live, it's kind of scary.”
Just last evening, near the intersection of Besserer and Dalhousie streets, a 36-year-old man was stabbed multiple times and robbed of his backpack . That follows a stabbing Friday night a few blocks away at Clarence and Cumberland.
That same night, two men were shot after their car was sprayed with bullets while they were travelling along Eagleson. One of the victims ended up outside restaurant at the Kanata Centrum shopping centre.
“I think it's totally out of control,” says one man, shopping at Centrum today.
“Every weekend, it seems there are shots fired somewhere,” adds another man.
“For sure it's concerning,” says another man, “especially when you have kids.”
On Saturday, in Ottawa's south end near Prince of Wales, a hail of bullets from an SUV struck a man walking along Dynes Road . That marks the city's 26th shooting of the year, according to Ottawa Police.
“I’ve always said that people who join a gang aren't courageous, they're cowards quite frankly,” says Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Watson .“A stray bullet is going to hurt someone or kill someone and that's why we increased the number of police officers and they've refocused their efforts on guns and gangs because we need to get these people off the streets.”
Councillor Rick Chiarelli is urging Ottawa's police chief to re-examine that guns and gangs’ strategy, saying something isn't working.
“We have to have a strategy that has a chance of bringing these numbers down,” says Chiarelli, “because we are close to doubling the record (of shootings) and that's not acceptable.”
Fear is mounting, after a spree of violence in his ward in Bells Corners.
After hosting community meetings, residents have established 19 new neighbourhood watch programs. But Chiarelli says the community can only do so much; the rest falls to the politicians and police.
Ottawa Police are taking part in a province-wide gun amnesty program this month. The mayor admits it's not a panacea for our gang problems but it will take some of the guns off the streets.