London’s recent string of violence in the city should be worrisome but it’s not unusual, say police.
“The presence of guns is always troubling for us and disturbing to us,” said Deputy Chief Brent Shea. “We’re concerned with the number of guns we’re seeing on the street because we’re seeing some shootings.”
Two men shot to death over the Thanksgiving holidays in two different neighbourhoods of London have put gun violence in the spotlight.
Both shootings were targeted, said Shea, and although the deaths happened in completely different areas, they could have happened anywhere.
“I wouldn’t say one area of the city is less safe than another area of the city,” he said. “The two homicides that occurred over the weekend were not random. Generally speaking most of the violent crimes, or a large percentage of them, are not random.”
The deaths marked the city’s fourth and fifth homicide of 2011. London has averaged five homicides a year since 2000.
Although guns are a constant problem for police, Shea said weapon crimes have gone down since last year.
“Weapon offences are down approximately three per cent year-to-date when compared to the same period in 2010,” he said. “General assaults are also down seven per cent when compared with the same period.”
Reported weapon offences and assaults have gone up over the last 10 years though.
Between 2000-2004 London averaged 116 offensive weapon reports a year compared to 2005-2010 with 198. By the end of August, London was sitting at 159.
Reported assaults have also gone up over an extra 300 a year (2000-2004: 2,058; 2005-2010: 2,387) when comparing the same dates.
“We are the largest city west of Toronto,” Shea said. “People who engage in certain lifestyles attract certain activities and we can direct investigations and intelligence gathering related to that. However, when you talk about geography things could happen anywhere.”
While the statistics illustrate the facts, the emotions raised can’t be discounted.
Ben Kimmerly was taken aback by the Sept. 7 shooting of 20-year-old David Arbuckle on Wellington Street. The killing was less than a block away from a clothing store he owns.
“It’s an isolated incident. It shouldn’t have even happened on this part of town, it should have happened somewhere else,” Kimmerly said.
“The customers and the people around here are pretty friendly. It’s low-income, so you’re going to come across some trouble, of course, any city has it.”
He said since the shooting his business has taken a bit of a hit.
Four days after Arbuckle’s death, police responded to a call at a sports bar on Clarke Road where they found 40-year-old Thi Tran suffering from fatal gun shot wounds.
Scott Mugford was at the sports bar the same night but the shooting hasn’t stopped him from going back. He’s returned several times to play games of pool with friends since the incident.
“Probably the wrong use of terminology but you can’t jump the gun,” Mugford said. “Two murders that could have happened at anytime and they’re not related, so I don’t think really violent crime is going up.”
Last Saturday (Oct. 15), Peel Regional Police arrested London’s Denzel Borden, 19, in Mississauga for the slaying of Tri Tran. The arrest came only a few hours after a warrant was issued for the young man.
Borden has been charged with second-degree murder, along with a list of firearm offenses.
Police are still searching for two suspects in the Arbuckle shooting.