Edmonton seeing spike in violent assaults
Police are seeing a 27% increase in violence compared to Edmonton’s three-year average, driven largely by an increase in serious, violent assaults, including an 88% increase in assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.
The Edmonton Police Service uses several indicators to measure crime across the city, such as violence, disorder and property crimes. Violence indicators include assault, robbery, sexual assault and homicide.
In July 2020, the Edmonton Police Service saw a 25% increase in violence indicators over July 2019. The July 2020 violence indicators saw an increase of 27% compared to the three-year average (July 2017-2019).
Of these indicators, assault was the main driver of the increase. More specifically, the category of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm increased by 56% and aggravated assault increased by 43% in July 2020 over July 2019. Compared to the July three-year average (2017-2019), assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm increased 88% in July 2020, while aggravated assault increased 34% in July 2020.
Percent change: 2020 compared to 2019
|Assault – Aggravated||+36%||+16%||-19%||+3%||+43%|
|Assault – Bodily harm/weapon||+12%||+0.6%||+17%||+30%||+56%|
Percent change: 2020 compared to 3-year average (2017-2019)
|Assault – Aggravated||+55%||+34%||+21%||+48%||+34%|
|Assault – Bodily harm/weapon||+15%||+9%||+35%||+35%||+88%|
Since July 11, 2020, there have been eight suspicious deaths in Edmonton, five of which have been confirmed as homicides. August 6, 2020 was a particularly violent day for Edmonton, with two new death investigations opened by the Homicide Section. A violent, random assault also occurred at 98 Avenue and 104 Street at about 7:45 pm last night, when a male reportedly approached a female who was waiting in the passenger side of a parked vehicle, asked for money, and then stabbed her multiple times. She was taken to hospital with serious non-life-threatening injuries. A 20-year-old male was taken into custody and is facing charges including aggravated assault, robbery, and possession of offensive weapon.
“While it’s difficult to speculate on why this is occurring, the increase in violent assaults is certainly concerning,” says Supt. Brad Doucette, with the EPS Criminal Investigations Division. “Especially when we see assaults with a weapon or causing bodily harm and aggravated assault on the rise – these are serious charges under the Criminal Code that are used when the victim’s life is put at risk.”
Serious assaults and calls for service involving weapons often require greater resources, including a larger officer response and more investigators. The EPS has pulled in resources from other investigative areas that remain stable or have seen decreases in workload in order to assist areas that are overtasked, such as Homicide Section.
Read more on Todayville.
Loaded handgun seized in Red Deer traffic stop
News release submitted by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)
A variety of drugs and a loaded handgun were seized from a suspected Red Deer drug dealer by ALERT. The handgun, which had its serial number defaced, was located following a traffic stop.
ALERT Red Deer’s organized crime and gang team made the seizure on May 4, 2022 after conducting a planned vehicle stop near Gasoline Alley in Red Deer County. A 41-year-old suspect was arrested, but has yet to be formally charged.
“Taking a handgun out of the hands of a drug dealer is a measure of success towards reinforcing community safety. ALERT continues to work with our partners at Red Deer RCMP, and neighbouring detachments, to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking activity,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson, ALERT Regional teams.
Along with the handgun ALERT located a variety of drugs inside the vehicle, including:
- 40 grams of fentanyl;
- 28 grams of methamphetamine;
- 6 grams of cocaine;
- 30 milliliters of GHB;
- 16 assorted illicit prescription pills; and
- $360 cash.
The handgun will be submitted for ballistic testing and firearms analysis.
The investigation remains ongoing as investigators are preparing reports and disclosure for Crown Counsel.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.
Buffalo suspect: Lonely, isolated — and a sign of trouble
By Bernard Condon And Michael Hill in Conklin
CONKLIN, N.Y. (AP) — In the waning days of Payton Gendron’s COVID-19-altered senior year at Susquehanna Valley High School, he logged on to a virtual learning program in economics class that asked: “What do you plan to do when you retire?”
“Murder-suicide,” Gendron typed.
Despite his protests that it was all a joke, the bespectacled 17-year-old who had long been viewed by classmates as a smart loner was questioned by state police over the possible threat and then taken into custody and to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation under a state mental health law.
But a day and a half later, he was released. And two weeks after that, he was allowed to participate in graduation festivities, including riding in the senior parade, where he was photographed atop a convertible driven by his father and festooned with yellow-and-blue balloons and signs reading, “Congratulations” and “Payton Gendron.”
That account of Gendron’s brush with the law last spring, according to authorities and other people familiar with what happened, emphasized the same point school officials made in a message to parents at the time: An investigation found no specific, credible threat against the school or any individual from that sign of trouble.
That same young white man bought a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, traveled three hours to Buffalo and went on what authorities say was a racist, livestreamed shooting rampage Saturday in a crowded supermarket that left 10 Black people dead.
Gendron, now 18, was arraigned on a state murder charge over the weekend and a court-appointed public defender entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. He remained jailed under suicide watch as federal prosecutors contemplate hate-crime charges.
Even as the FBI swarmed the comfortable home where Gendron lived with his parents and two younger brothers, neighbors and classmates in this community of 5,000 near the New York-Pennsylvania line say they saw no inkling of the young man now being described on television.
And they say they saw nothing of the kind of racist rhetoric seen in a 180-page online diatribe, purportedly written by Gendron, in which he describes in minute detail how he researched ZIP codes with the highest concentrations of Black people, surveilled the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, and carried out the assault to terrorize all nonwhite, non-Christian people into leaving the country.
Classmates described Gendron as a quiet, studious boy who got high marks but seemed out of place in recent years, turning to online streaming games, a fascination with guns and ways to grab attention from his peers.
When school partially opened again early last year after COVID-19-related shutdowns, Gendron showed up covered head to toe in a hazmat suit. Classmate Matthew Casado said he didn’t think the stunt -– he called it “a harmless joke” — went down well with other students.
“Most people didn’t associate with him,” he said. “They didn’t want to be known as friends with a kid who was socially awkward and nerdy.”
Gendron excelled in sciences, once earning top marks in a state chemistry competition. But he was known for keeping to himself and not talking much. And when he did talk, it was about isolation, rejection and desperation.
“He talked about how he didn’t like school because he didn’t have friends. He would say he was lonely,” said Casado, who graduated with Gendron last year.
At one point last winter, Gendron’s mother called Casado’s mother with a request: Please have Matthew call Payton because he had no friends and needed to talk.
The two boys ended up going to flea markets together, watching YouTube videos and shooting guns on nearby state land over the next few months. Casado said that he had never heard his friend talk of anything violent.
“I didn’t think he would hurt a fly,” he said.
Some neighbors had a similar view, seeing the family as happy and prosperous, with both Paul Gendron and his wife, Pamela, holding stable jobs as civil engineers with the New York state Department of Transportation, earning nearly $200,000 combined, according to online records.
Dozens of their Facebook posts over the years show the parents and their three boys — often dressed in matching outfits — enjoying amusement park vacations, going on boat trips, shooting laser tag guns and opening presents on Christmas morning.
Carl Lobdell, a family friend who first met Gendron on a camping vacation a dozen years ago, said he was shocked that Payton was identified as the suspect in the mass shooting.
“He was very friendly, very respectable,” said Lobdell, adding that his family had grown so close to the Gendrons that they even attended Payton’s graduation party last year. “When I heard about the shooting … I just cried.”
The family did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend, nor did Gendron’s attorney. No one answered the door Monday at the family home, surrounded by a neat, spacious lawn. Near the front door was a tiny right hand pressed in concrete with a heart symbol and the words, “PAYTON 2008.”
One parent of a Susquehanna Valley High student said she was furious that the student who was investigated for making the threat last year — whom she later discovered was Gendron — was still allowed to participate in all graduation activities. The woman asked not to be identified because she feared harassment.
According to a recording of a conference call of federal and local law enforcement officials Monday that was obtained by The Associated Press, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Gendron’s comments he made in school in June 2021 were “generalized statements” and not targeted at anyone in particular or at a specific location, which is why no criminal charges were filed. He said the state police “did everything within the confines of the law.”
Gendron enrolled at Broome County Community College and later dropped out. The school wouldn’t say why. And according to online writings attributed to him, he began planning his assault on the Buffalo supermarket beginning at least in November, saying he was inculcated into his racist views online.
“I was never diagnosed with a mental disability or disorder, and I believe to be perfectly sane,” according to one passage.
A new, 589-page document of online diary postings emerged Monday that authorities have attributed to Gendron, and some of its passages tracked with the account AP’s sources gave of his high school threat investigation.
“Another bad experience was when I had to go to a hospitals ER because I said the word’s ‘murder/suicide’ to an online paper in economics class,” said one entry. “I got out of it because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down. That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns.”
“It was not a joke, I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.”
Condon reported from New York. Eric Tucker in Washington, Michael R. Sisak in New York and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed.
Contact AP’s global investigative team at [email protected]
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