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Shootings, violence in downtown core worry councillor

After a string of violence in the downtown core, from brazen daytime shootings to repeated shootings at one house, one councillor fears that Hamilton is in for a 'hot summer' of violence on city streets.

2 shootings at same house reported 10 days apart

A Hamilton police officer searches for clues after a shooting on MacNab Street in the city's North End on Monday June 16, 2015. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Following a string of violence in the downtown core, from brazen daytime shootings in the spring to repeated shootings at one house Friday, one councillor fears that Hamilton is in for a 'hot summer' of violence on city streets.

"The early signs in the spring indicated to me that it might be a hot summer, which is why we moved forward with the gun buy-back program," said Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green.

"I'm hopeful that through the right community supports, and support from police services, that we can head off further incidents or perhaps look at some interventions if they're in any way related."

Green's ward was the subject of a brazen daytime shooting caught on a dashcam in May, a day that saw two separate shootings in his ward. It prompted a huge community response, including a gun buy-back program approved by council a week later.

But in neighbouring Ward 2, violence continues to persist.

On Friday, a MacNab Street North house a quick walk from the new GO Train station was mobbed by police responding to the second call of gun shots in 10 days at the one location.

In the first call, three people were left in the streets with gun shot wounds. They didn't co-operate with police when questioned in hospital.

Another violent weekend

On Saturday, Hamilton Police Staff Sgt. Paul Staats said investigators found "no suspects, no victims, no scene" at the MacNab suppertime shooting on Friday, which occurred sometime between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Later that night, another violent act occurred down the street on Ferguson Avenue North.

In that event, an argument on the basketball court of an elementary school at 11 p.m. led to a stabbing that sent one man in his late 20s to hospital.

Staats said Hamilton Police track violent crime, which is trending down despite the media attention.

"I think that it's just being reported more," Staats said Sunday. "Our crime trends are actually a little lower than normal."

Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr echoed Staats sentiments.

"Certainly crime trends overall in the last four years are down," he said.

Farr also said he reached out to Division 1 commander-in-charge, Supt. Paul Morrison, to co-ordinate a conversation between community and police on violence in his ward after resident calls to the downtown councillor.

Morrison did not immediately respond to a request from CBC News for comment.

No stats for map

Last November, police introduced an online tool that maps crime statistics of all kinds, promising transparent geographic-based crime reporting with a one-day delay.

Six months after its release, if you search the database, you won't find a single homicide (there have been at least two so far in 2015), sexual assault or weapons infractions in 2015.

A screenshot of the crime mapping tool introduced by Hamilton Police last November doesn't show any of the violent crime in 2015 despite multiple homicides and shootings since the beginning of 2015. (Raidsonline.com)

It leaves the public with aging statistics on how crime is changing in Hamilton. Those numbers indicate that crimes involving firearms increased 100 per cent from 2003 to 2012.

Those same numbers show a downward trend of violent crime overall in recent years, largely on the backs of reduced harassing phone calls, robberies, minor assaults and sexual assaults.

By contrast, attempted murder was reported up 40 per cent, forcible confinement/kidnapping was up 323 per cent and assaults against a police officer jumped 31 per cent.

Less detail in recent reports, gun violence not broken out

Hamilton Police no longer provide statistics with that level of detail. In the 2014 year end crime reports, firearms statistics were not broken out of violent crime. Level II assaults, which involve a weapon but not necessarily a gun, jumped from 615 to 659 incidents from 2013 to 2014.

In Hamilton, 2013 was a deadly year for homicides with 13 cases for detectives. Nine were recorded in 2014, seeing a return to the normal average Hamilton has experienced over the past 10 years (which is 8.6 homicides per year since 2012).

Former Coun. Brad Clark's son almost became part of that statistic early in the year when a Stoney Creek shooting sent him to hospital in April. Earlier in the year, a Toronto man was shot in an east end home as the city's first homicide of the year.

Green said that while he "fears" for a "hot summer," his greatest concern is for retaliation events. He points to recent arrests in the east end shooting point to good work from Hamilton Police.

"It took some violent people off the street and some guns off the street," Green said.

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