Gun crime investigators say shooting incidents on the rise in Edmonton

Edmonton police say gun crime investigators are being stretched thin as shooting investigations pile up.

“We’re like a broken record up here,” guns and gangs Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart said as he kicked off a news conference Tuesday.

Stewart shared details about a December shooting that saw shooters fire multiple rounds into a north Edmonton home with a mother and three children inside. There were no injuries, but Stewart said it was a near-miss and called the shooting ” brazen” and a “very concerning event.”

On Dec. 7, 2022, police were called to a home at 148th Avenue and 89th Street, where Stewart said two shooters had fired more than 10 shots at a home with a woman and children inside. 

Stewart said investigators believe the shooting at the house was targeted – with one shooter firing at the front of the home and one at the back –  but they don’t have any reason to believe the family inside were the intended victims.

“We can’t say whether they got the wrong residence, or if they thought someone else used to live at that residence,” Stewart said. “We truly believe the individuals at that house weren’t the intended targets.”

A man wearing a suit and blue tie sits in an office.
Guns and gangs section Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart said his team is trying to keep up with resource-intensive shooting investigations. (Edmonton Police Service.)

He said the children were in bed at the time, and that the incident was so traumatic for the mother that she decided to move out of province. 

Police released security footage showing one person dressed in dark colours who they have identified as a subject, and added that they believe a dark-coloured Honda CR-V may have been involved.

A person in all black stands outside, raising their arm in the air.
A blurry security footage image shows a person dressed in dark colours. Police say the person is a suspect in a Dec. 7, 2022 shooting. (Edmonton Police Service.)

Stewart has given several news conferences and interviews in recent months, both to share data about the volume of shootings and to ask for public help in solving specific cases. 

“These files are very challenging and complex, and they’re very lengthy,” he explained, adding it takes an average of four to six months to complete a shooting investigation.

He said the firearms investigation unit and other EPS teams have laid charges and made headway in some cases, but that it’s not enough. 

“It’s not the numbers we would like to see in solving these crimes. When we’re doing a release like this it’s because we’re at the point where we need the help from the public,” 

Stewart said there were 19 shootings in January, a jump from 11 the same month last year. 

There were 165 shootings across the city in 2022, according to new data on gun crime released by EPS on Tuesday.

There were 150 in 2021 and 158 in 2020. 

The motives behind the shootings are mixed, making it a difficult issue to tackle, Stewart said.

He said that in 2022 about 10-15 per cent were directly connected to organized crime or gangs, while the remaining majority were motivated by factors like drug-related issues, personal animosity amongst groups and other issues like domestic violence. 

“These shootings are hard to predict, it’s hard to identify a pattern,” Stewart said. “We’re doing our best to work through those.” 

EPS believes that 141 of the 165 – 85 per cent – of last year’s shootings were targeted, an increase over 2021 when 72 per cent were believed to be targeted.

People were injured in 90 in the shooting in 2022, similar to the 89 injury shootings in 2021.

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