Winnipeg violence shocks police, residents

Winnipeg police say they are shocked and concerned about rising violence in the West End and are stepping up patrols in the area.
A 10-year-old girl is taken to hospital after a shooting on Victor Street on Wednesday. ((CBC))
Winnipeg police say they are shocked and concerned about rising violence in the West End and are stepping up patrols in the area.

One teen was killed and three young people injured in shootings on Tuesday and Wednesday on neighbouring streets.

"We're shocked at each and every incident that's occurring in this area and …the close proximity," said police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen.

The violence in the area is getting out of hand and is related to street gangs, said police Chief Keith McCaskill, adding the force is boosting its presence in the West End.

"The important thing here is to get this in control. We've got now our street crimes unit, our community support unit and other officers that are going to be actively patrolling that area moreso than in the past," he said.

"We are going to have some foot patrols in there as well."

Mayor Sam Katz said it's time for MPs to get tough on crime.

"We need to make sure that our members of Parliament know that we're not putting up with any more of this," he said.

"There need to be consequences for criminal activity, and when prosecuting you need to be asking for the maximum, not the minimum. Things have to change."

There are also social issues surrounding gang-related violence, which need to be addressed by all three levels of government, he added.

Two boys shot

According to police, a 16-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy were sitting on the front porch of a home at 646 Toronto St. on Tuesday when two armed people shot them and fled.

The 16-year-old was hit in the upper and lower body and died. The 13-year-old was hit in the leg and survived.

A person associated to the injured boys then chased the shooters on foot while armed with a gun, police said.

That person began shooting in the area of the 600 block of Agnes Street, two blocks away, striking two cars that were not involved in the incident. One of the vehicles had people inside but no one was hurt.

Two girls hurt

On Wednesday, someone fired shots through the front window of a house at 542 Victor St., hitting a 10-year-old girl playing inside.

An eight-year-old girl suffered superficial injuries as a result of the shooting, police said, adding her injuries were caused by flying debris.

Paramedics rush an injured 16-year-old boy away from a shooting scene on Toronto Street in Winnipeg's West End on Tuesday. ((CBC))
The 10-year-old is in stable condition in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Toronto, Victor and Agnes streets run consecutively off Sargent Avenue in the city's West End.

In the past year, the 500 and 600 blocks of those streets have been the scenes of assaults, armed standoffs and stabbings.

"You should be angry. You should be upset," Katz said, referring to residents in the area.

"You should be concerned about two innocent girls playing in their living room and being injured."

'You should be angry. You should be upset. You should be concerned about two innocent girls playing in their living room and being injured.'—Mayor Sam Katz

Michalyshen said it doesn't appear that the Tuesday and Wednesday shootings are connected.

"You know, whether these incidents happened a block from each other or 10 blocks from each other, they're all really serious and certainly we need to reassure the public, specifically in this community, that it is safe and we need to regain some of that confidence for the public," Michalyshen said.

Residents shaken

Bill Mandzij has lived on Victor Street for nearly 25 years and said it has become a dangerous place in recent years.

"There's too many gangs, you know, like Manitoba Warriors and that Indian Posse. They don't seem to care for anybody," he said.

Mandzij used to walk to work at the Health Sciences Centre without fear, but said he is now nervous, looking over his shoulder, whenever he goes outside.

Carrie Flemington and her family also live on Victor Street but refuses to let the violence drive her out.

She said most residents are good, hard-working people.

"It actually strengthens our resolve to stay, simply because neighborhoods won't change if we all sort of abandon [them]," Flemington said.

"That's why we lived here to begin with and that's why we will continue living here."