Gun violence in Calgary has police, residents on edge

Calgary Police say the level of gun violence in the city is like nothing they've seen before.

Ongoing investigations hope to find groups responsible as well as root cause of shootings

Police on the scene of a New Year's Eve shooting in Calgary earlier this year. Gun violence has spiked in 2015, raising concerns of police and residents. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Calgary Police say the level of gun violence in the city is like nothing they've seen before. 

"Disputes over drugs are nothing new, but the use of guns to resolve these disputes has now become the rule instead of the exception," said Staff Sgt. Quinn Jacques, who heads the guns and gangs unit. 

"We are deeply concerned by this."

2015 gun violence in Calgary by motivation. (Calgary Police Service)
 In 2014, Calgary police investigated 54 shooting events across the city. In the first half of 2015, that count is already at 63. 

And while the crime isn't isolated to the northeast, close to 40 per cent of those shootings have taken place in that quadrant.

"Is it because the members involved in this conflict reside in that area? I don't know. Is it because they congregate there? I don't know. So I don't have any comfort around what the real reason is for this anomaly," said Jacques.

Police are busy trying to find the groups responsible for the burst in violence, as well as the cause.

"The conflict that we're seeing doesn't seem to have a root cause," said Jacques. "It's probably in some way related to drugs, but there's not two opposing groups. It's very complex and fluid."

Police describe their investigations as covert and ongoing, but won't release details at this time.

2015 gun violence in Calgary by crime type. (Calgary Police Service)

Residents are worried about the consequences of more bullets flying.

"I think the concern here is that an innocent bystander could easily be affected with this from a stray bullet or just walking across the road," said Khalil Karbani, who has lived in the the northeast community of Taradale for 10 years.

Coun. Ray Jones, whose Ward 5 is located in the northeast, hopes residents realize the threat and work to help police with their investigations.

"Everybody kind of turtles when something like this happens, rather than report what they've seen," he said. "And I think people have to start reporting what they see. If there's a drug deal going down, phone it in."