Calgary stabbings not indicative of rise in knife deaths, expert says

A Calgary crime expert says the five fatal Brentwood stabbings are not an indication the city is becoming more violent.

Criminologist says it's natural for Calgarians to question how safe they are in wake of Brentwood stabbings

A Calgary criminologist says despite this week's tragic stabbings in Calgary, there is no evidence to suggest overall knife homicide rates are on the way up. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

A Calgary crime expert says the five fatal stabbings in the northwest community of Brentwood are not an indication the city is becoming more violent.

As Calgarians come to grips with what police are calling the worst mass murder in the city's history, Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King says it’s natural to feel unsafe.

Matthew de Grood, 22, faces five first-degree murder charges in connection with the early Tuesday morning stabbings that left Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and ​Jordan Segura dead. 

All had been attending a house party to celebrate the end of the university term.

But the killings are not part of a growing trend, King said.

"We shouldn't be alarmed that we're seeing an increase in homicides because of knives or those kinds of things. That just isn't occurring,” he said.

After climbing from the 1970s to the late 1990s, statistics show the homicide rate involving knives has been tapering off.

Stabbings accounted for just 15 per cent of Canadian homicides in 1974 — rising to 27 per cent in 1999 and to 34 per cent by 2008. But the rate fell to 30 per cent in 2012.

According to King, the public tends to focus on how people were killed in cases involving multiple deaths.

"Why is that important? Because people now instantly jump and say, ‘Well, we have to somehow regulate the availability of knives,'" he said.

But that would be a futile move because kitchen knives are so widely available, King said, adding that tougher sentences won't make a difference either.

Instead, he said the key is to focus efforts on figuring out why some people are more predisposed to violence than others.