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Winnipeg police tackle spate of violent youth crime

Police are speaking out after a string of, what they are calling, “rash and violent robberies and attacks” in recent days on Winnipeg streets. Youths are being charged in connection to each.

Between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, Winnipeg Police Services (WPS) chief Danny Smyth said there were four robberies, two involving a 13-year-old suspect.

The first victim was a 19-year-old woman. Officers said she had been waiting for her bus when the teen allegedly demanded her phone, pulled out a machete, and swung it at her.

“As she was trying to protect herself, she sustained serious injuries to her upper body,” authorities said. The suspect then ran away, and a good Samaritan helped the woman until police got there and provided emergency medical care.

She was taken to hospital in stable condition, officers said, where she was treated for life-altering injuries.

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Two days later, the teen is alleged to have robbed a 12-year-old boy at gunpoint near Main Street and Rupertsland Avenue, WPS said.

The suspect was, again, after the victim’s cellphone.

On Monday, there was an another attack on Waterfront Drive near the Forks in which a machete was used, Smyth said. Even though a suspect has been identified, he said the victim doesn’t want to be involved in a criminal investigation.

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On Tuesday, police said a 25-year-old man was robbed by “a group of youths” on Main Street near the Humphry Inn.

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A 20-year-old and 17-year-old were arrested after being found to have “a can of bear spray, a large sheathed serrated knife, and a curved knife in their possession,” officers said. Two other 17-year-olds were released.

“Alarming to all of us is that these attacks appear to be random, the attackers have been described as youths, and the attacks have been violent,” said Smyth said.

He said there have been a number of youths identified, all of them facing multiple criminal offences.

“Most of them have been remanded into custody,” he noted.

“We are aware of multiple youths that are involved in this kind of activity, committing serious crimes with serious weapons, and they’re all kind of affiliated to one another,” Smyth said, adding all the suspects appear to be in the care of Child and Family Services.

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“None of them seem to come from stable homes,” he said.

Generally, Smyth said he is seeing more examples of group homes and foster homes not having enough resources to meet the needs of youth.

“This means the kids are left to themselves to go anywhere and do anything that they see fit. Now some of them are getting involved in crime,” he said.

“I also want to point out that some are also left vulnerable to be exploited, and often becoming victims of crime themselves.”

He referenced the death of a child on Graham Avenue this past December.

Smyth worries that it’s becoming an endless cycle, and needs to be looked at.

“They will be released, conditionally at some point, and they will likely be returned to another group home or another foster home,” Smyth said.

“This is an issue for us that we all have to address here. There’s a role for police in some of this, but I guess there’s also a necessity to address some of the root causes that have been described here.”

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Winnipeg youth involved in gang activity seeing way out with media campaign: police

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