Shootings in Ottawa: “they are ready to make fire anywhere, anytime”

News 22 March, 2018
  • Jean-François Guérin

    Thursday, 22 march, 2018 20:14

    Thursday, 22 march, 2018 21:04

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    OTTAWA – After having been the theatre of the 74 shootings in 2017, Ottawa is trying to regain the top on a growing problem in recent years, the violence between the gangs. Even if things have calmed down in recent weeks, the battle is far from won, as the team has noted the program “J. E.”.

    “I have heard “pow!pow!pow!” I said to my daughter: “Couche-toi! These are balls!””, tells Patricia Naindabo, who will always remember that late afternoon in September of last year, when only a young man of 20 years old, Hamzeh Serhan, was murdered a few houses of his own, in the south of the city.

    Serhan was also armed and had attempted to defend himself, all this while dozens of children returned to school. On the way out, she saw people who tried the manoeuvres of resuscitation on the victim. Fabien Kalala was one of those. “I’m not the same person since that day,” he says today.

    This second murder in as many years was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Patricia, who, with other mothers, has organized a protest for things to change.

    Vanier, Nepean, Overbrooke, Byward Market: the shootings have broken out to the four corners of the city and sometimes in the middle of the day or in high-traffic areas, which increases the risk of innocent victims. Clashes between gang members would be at the origin of most of these violent acts.

    “They are cheeky, are ready to make fire anywhere and anytime,” says inspector Mark Patterson of the Ottawa police. The portrait of gangs in the national capital has profoundly changed in recent years: alliances broken as quickly as they do, which made the situation hard to follow for the police.

    One of the ways that the police have found to calm down the game is the DART (Direct Action Response Team), a squad of super-patrollers whose mandate is to browse the hot districts. The team of “J. E.” was able to follow the DART on a Friday night.

    The agents intercept vehicles, to verify if individuals are complying with their conditions of release or act on events involving firearms. Even if the strategy has yielded results, including the Project Sabotage, in which we took a good amount of weapons and arrested a dozen people, the scientists think that we must focus on prevention to tackle the problem.

    But it’s an approach to which decision-makers are less interested. “When you’re a politician, you have a term short enough, you want results. We want to give the number of arrests, the number of weapons seized. It is very tangible,” emphasizes Audrey Monette, criminologist at the university of Ottawa.

    Even if the police work is essential, we should bet more to wager on a long-term work. The work of prevention would keep it away from youth gangs. She cites the example of Edmonton, Alberta, which, by the Reach programme has been successful in reaching young people from different communities.

    There is also talk of Glasgow in Scotland, which was qualified once for the european capital of murder. In three years, homicides related to street gangs decreased by 50 %. This approach, which treats these acts of violence as public health for a disease, going to the source, reports of the results, but it takes time.

    In the meantime, the citizens multiply the initiatives to ensure that the criminals go to pay their accounts elsewhere. In Bells Corners, a neighborhood comparable to Rivière-des-Prairies to Montreal or Sainte-Foy in Quebec, a murder and two shootings have occurred in eight days in January.

    After a great meeting, residents agreed to participate in the neighbourhood watch program, by which a citizens network works to bring any individual or gesture suspects. Everything is quiet since.

    “Ottawa may not be classified as a dangerous city, is launching the district councillor Rick Chiarelli. But if we do not act now so muscular, she will be.”

    Last summer, a british military passage has been lightly injured by a stray bullet during a drive-by shooting”. Will there be a wait for an innocent victim dies, as in Toronto during what has been called the “Year of the Gun” to take all means to resolve the problem?

    “I don’t want another family to live what we have lived with Tarek,” said Jasem Dakhil, the father of the young man of 23 years, a victim of the first murder of the year in Ottawa.

    This immigrant of kuwait had yet chosen to move to Ottawa in the 1990s for its calm and its safe. Ottawa continues to mourn its dead and heal its wounds, hoping to put an end to this mindless violence.