My first thought when I saw his picture was, “he’s just a baby."
I was staring at the photo of a 14-year-old boy posted on our website.
There was a lot to see in this picture: Tattoos on his neck show a gang affiliation; his nose looks like it may have been broken a few times. But it was his eyes that got me. Something in them just said “young."
He’s only 14. Too young to legally drive, drink or buy cigarettes, yet police think this boy — somebody’s baby — had a gun and used it to put a 17-year-old in critical condition.
That fact is enough to surprise even our Winnipeg police officers, who you know have seen it all.
Here’s what Const. Eric Hofley said as he told reporters about the Canada-wide warrant issued for this boy: "Thirteen or 14 years of age, for anybody to be firing at a vehicle with, you know, total apparent disregard for the safety or the life of those within, is disturbing."
Disturbing is an understatement.
I’m not fully naive. I’ve heard of kids younger than 14 being accused of violent crimes in our province. I’ve just never before seen their pictures.
It’s extremely rare for police to identify a suspect under 18. The Youth Criminal Justice Act protects their identities in the hope they can have a law-abiding adulthood, without past mistakes holding them back.
Police had to get permission of the court to release this boy’s photo. When they catch up with him or, depending on the details of the court order, when their window of permission closes, all media outlets will have to forget the boy’s name.
I’m going to have a tough time forgetting his face.