Latest gang shooting in Hobbema leaves woman, 20, dead

A 20-year-old woman was killed Saturday night in the latest shooting in Hobbema, a community about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, that is home to four Alberta First Nations groups.

A 20-year-old woman was killed Saturday night in the latest shooting in Hobbema, a community about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton that is home to four First Nations groups.

Delena Lefthand, who also used the name Delena Dixon, was likely an unintended victim of the continuing gang violence in the community, RCMP said.

The shooting occurred just after midnight when someone fired a bullet through the wall of a home on the Samson townsite where Lefthand, the woman's one-year-old baby, and a group of other girls were gathered inside.

Family and friends of Delena Lefthand, also known as Delena Dixon, gather outside a home on the Samson townsite where the 20-year-old woman was shot Saturday night. ((Tim Adams/CBC))

One of the girls, Tessa Thome, 12,  said she looked out the window and saw a group of boys in the bushes.

"I went running into the closet, all the girls were by the bed and I was just staring at Delena. And then I just saw her get shot by the cheek. And then I just saw lots of blood."

No one else was injured in the shooting.

Delena's mother, Verna Dee Dixon, was out for the night.

"When we pulled in I seen that yellow tape. I said to myself 'Oh no, what happened now.' One of these cops told me that my daughter got shot," Dixon said.

While the shooting appears gang related, the young woman killed did not have gang connections, RCMP said. But they said others in the house did have gang ties, noting it was the scene of a shooting the previous night that resulted in minor injuries to a man.

"My daughter was never into gangs," a sobbing Dixon said.

"She used to say 'Mom I don't like this violence, I hate it, it doesn't seem like a home,'" she said.

Community gun amnesty to quell violence

The shooting comes weeks after the start a four-month gun amnesty organized by police, the community and provincial officials in the hopes of reducing the gang violence plaguing the community.

There are 13 gangs active in Hobbema, a community of 12,000, RCMP say.

"We have to continue to work with our communities and address these problems head-on," said RCMP Cpl. Darrel Bruno.

Overall crime in the area is down, he said, although homicides are up from two last year to five this year.

The latest shooting could lead to more violence, Bruno said, because shootings like the one this weekend often lead to retaliation.

The gun amnesty was announced in response to the shooting three months ago of two-year-old Asia Saddleback. A bullet fired through her grandfather's home on the Samson Cree First nation stuck her as she was eating Sunday dinner on April 13.

So far, only a handful of guns have been turned in. There have also been two other recent killings in the area.

On Aug. 2, the body of Dale Dechamps, 21, was found in a back alley on the Samson townsite. Billy Buffalo, 16, was killed in what police believe was a gang-related shooting on July 27.

"We have gunshots here probably every night. It's unbelievable. Even with the gun amnesty, there are still gunshots," said RCMP Const. Perry Cardinal.

Cardinal said even with a 40-member detachment in Hobbema, police can only do so much. He said family ties are strong in the area and gang members are often protected.

"It still goes on because people continue to let it happen, people that don't say anything, they don't report anything," he said.

The Samson Cree Nation Chief and band council have decided to offer a $10,000 reward for information about the shooting.

Roy Louis, a community leader, said the next step is to "meet and brainstorm and strategize as to what we should do."

But Delena's father said the time for talk is over.

"Just watch, nothing's going to be done, it's going to be all the same. Over and over, it's just going to be all talk," Darren Applegarth said.

He said that all known gang members should be kicked out of Hobbema, a move that would affect his own family because two of his sons are in gangs, he said.

With files from Tim Adams