With three months left in 2016, the number of shootings in Ottawa has already reached 49, matching the record-breaking tally set in 2014.
The record was matched early Monday morning, according to police. Twenty-five of the 49 shootings have involved victims who were struck by bullets, and charges have been laid in 11 of the 49 cases, according to guns and gangs unit Staff Sgt. Ian McDonell.
Meanwhile there have been 13 homicides so far in 2016, two of which occurred just this past weekend — both shootings. Nine of the 13 cases have ties to gang activity, according to major crimes unit Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt.
Since 1985 Ottawa police have investigated an average of 10 homicides per year, though the numbers can vary wildly: there were 25 homicides in 1995, for example, and only two in 2001.
Ten of this year's 13 homicide victims were shot. Charges have been laid in four of the 13 homicides.
Staff Sgt. Ian McDonell says the high number of shootings in recent years is a concern for the unit, but that the city is still quite safe.
"It's obviously concerning. Any time one shooting [happens] is concerning to us. But I think in the big context of it, Ottawa is still a very safe city. ... But obviously it's something that is of concern to us," he said.
The shootings have mainly involved specific targets, many of whom have ties to Ottawa gangs, McDonell said. But that doesn't mean a gang war is taking place.
"It's involving people that are of interest to the guns and gangs unit, but it's not like [we're] saying there's a gang war out there, with rival gangs shooting at each other," he said.
'Can't solve this problem alone'
McDonell is hoping for more help from the community to solve outstanding cases and prevent future violence.
"We can't solve this problem alone. The people in the community have got to step forward. They can either do it as witnesses or anonymously, and give us the information we need," he said.
"It's a lot of files to be investigating."
There are currently 10 full-time officers assigned permanently to the guns and gangs unit. Another seven are temporarily seconded from other units to deal with the increasing number of shootings, according to McDonell.
In March, Chief Charles Bordeleau said guns and gangs unit staffing would be doubled on a permanent basis. A timeline for that permanent doubling was not available Monday.