While homicides are down from the average this year, Ottawa police say a jump in gang activity throughout the city has spilled over into the major crimes unit.

Ottawa police investigate about 10 homicides every year, according to statistics from 1985 to the present day.

This year, there were seven.

But the number of homicides can vary wildly from year to year, making it difficult to say whether homicide activity is really trending up or down. There were only two homicides in 1998, for example, and there were 25 in 1995.

Gang-related homicides

Of this year's seven homicides, three were linked to gang activity: the deaths of Khalid Doreh and Peyman Hatami, both in March, and Levy Kasende in August.


Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt, one of the heads of the major crime unit, says developments in some unsolved homicide cases could be coming next year. (CBC)

"The increase in gang activity definitely has a spill-over effect on us," said Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt, one of the heads of the major crime unit.

"And … every time we get a homicide, we do interact with the guns and gangs unit immediately to determine if any of our people in our homicide have anything to do with the guns and gangs squad," he said.

Police getting closer on some unsolved cases

As for unsolved cases, there were nine from 1985 to 1998, and double that number from 1999 to the present.

But Pirt, who has been with the major crime unit for 14 years, said it's not because criminals are getting smarter.

"I don't think they're getting smarter, it's just each case is so unique and in some cases we do get all the evidence necessary to make the arrest and get a conviction and do that right away," Pirt said. "But in a lot of cases, or some cases, the evidence just isn't there right away and we just can't get at it right away. That doesn't mean it won't be solved, it just takes time."

Developments in some unsolved cases could be coming soon, Pirt said.

"To put a timeline on it, I can't do that," he said. "But yes, there are a number of unsolved cases that we are getting closer and closer to solving.

"I would like to see a number of cases solved in the year 2013, and I fully anticipate it, yes."

In February of 2013, a then 56-year-old Marc Leduc was charged with first-degree murder in the formerly unsolved deaths of 39-year-old Pamela Kosmack in 2008 and 23-year-old Leanne Lawson in 2011. Also in 2013, Ottawa police laid charges in the unsolved homicides of Levy Kasende and Jennifer Stewart.

2012 homicides

1. Navid Niran, 24, was stabbed to death outside a ByWard Market bar on Dalhousie Street near Rideau Street on Sunday, Jan. 22. Ahmed Hafizi, then 18, was charged with first-degree murder

2. Khalid Doreh, 20, was shot to death in a triple shooting at 829 Borthwick Ave. near St. Laurent Boulevard on Friday, March 23. Zakaria Dhournou, then 19, was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of assault with a weapon. Ottawa police said he's believed to be the getaway driver. An arrest warrant was issued for Maher Majed, then 21, about five months later in August. The alleged shooter still hasn't been arrested and Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt said police have "no idea" where he might be. 

3. Peyman Hatami, 31, was shot to death near a strip mall at Dynes Road near Prince of Wales Drive on Thursday, March 29. Eriklit Musollari, then 22, turned himself in to police and was charged with second-degree murder. A jury found Musollari guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in June. 

4. Theresa Lefebvre, 46, was found badly beaten by her husband in their Stittsville home on Hartsmere Drive on Wednesday, April 11, after a man called police to say he had killed his wife. She died in hospital about a week later. The body of her husband Peter Lefebvre, from whom she was separating, was found in the Stony Swamp Conservation area. He had killed himself and therefore, no charges were laid.

5. Levy Kasende, 22, was shot to death outside his ex-girlfriend's house at 2676 Innes Rd. on Saturday, Aug. 25. A Mazda MPV similar to the vehicle spotted fleeing the crime scene was found abandoned on a rural road just 40 minutes after the shooting. Someone had set it on fire. In 2013, a first-degree murder charge was laid against then 24-year-old Michael Belleus

6. Lucie Goudreau, 53, was found dead after a fire in her main-floor apartment at 90 Woodridge Cres. on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Her son, 30-year-old Rene Goudreau, was charged with first-degree murder. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.

7. Jai Le Zhao, 21, was found dead of slash wounds in the low-rise apartment he shared with his suspected killer at 1189 Meadowlands Dr., apartment 15, on the third floor. It happened early in the morning on Thursday, Dec. 6. Guo You (Keith) Ru, 25, was charged with second-degree murder

Unsolved cases

Year Total Unsolved Victims of unsolved cases
2012 7 0
2011 10 3 Jason Chapman and Graham ThomasKhamsouriya (Eric) Vongviset
2010 10 0
2009 10 1 Mohamed Jama Ali*
2008 11 2 Simohamed El Fenne*, Michael Aitkenhead 
2007 14 2 Jason Gall*, Paul Simard*
2006 16 1 Arash Raffiqi*
2005 11 0
2004 11 1 Douglas Stewart*
2003 10 1 Robert Wood
2002 8 0
2001 3 0
2000 9 1 Andrew McLean
1999 14 0
1998 2 0
1997 9 0
1996 13 3 Christopher SmithJohn Brow*, an unidentified newborn girl
1995 25 1 Carie Mancuso*
1994 10 0
1993 8 1 Sophie Filion*
1992 15 0
1991 15 1 Patrick Brunette
1990 8 1 Melinda Sheppit*
1989 8 0
1988 10 1 Josee Boutin
1987 9 1 Sammy Odjick
1986 4 0
1985 13 0

Source: Ottawa Police Service. Asterisks (*) indicate that a reward is being offered by police.