Police Cst. Jay Murray told 680 CJOB Tuesday afternoon that the number of firearm-related homicides, as well as the number of homicides in general, is up from past years.
“Last year, we only had three homicides out of 22 that were as the result of a firearm discharge, and even that is too high,” said Murray.
“Then you look at this year, and now we’re at five out of eight already.
“It’s a little unnerving for officers on the street, because you never know what you’re going to come across. It’s important that we never become complacent, but five or 10 years ago, you had that expectation that you wouldn’t come across many firearms.”
Not so today. Murray said that police seized over 750 ‘crime guns’ – firearms used in offences – last year alone.
“One of the things that’s been emerging is people are starting to make firearms using bicycle parts or whatever kind of tube they can find,” he said.
“We’re finding a lot of people in possession of what we call an improvised firing device. It’s anything cylindrical that people can get their hands on and they’ll jam a 12-gauge shotgun shell in it.”
Murray said these kinds or rudimentary weapons often don’t work, but that police are seeing more traditional firearms on the streets as well, plus imitation firearms, like pellet or Airsoft guns that are designed to look like the real thing.
The increase in guns, and the weapons’ frequent ties to the drug trade, have led to the cops restructuring and rebranding their Street Crime Unit as the Guns and Gangs Unit.
“They’re going to look at the supply of firearms in the city, the distribution of them, and the use for them,” he said.
“These investigators are going to work as hard as possible to take every firearm they can find off the streets.”
Murray said while investigators know the job they signed up for, the rise in gun calls and homicides in the city is taking a toll on officers.
WATCH: Increasing homicide rate taking a toll on officers
“I met with one officer … by the time I met with him … he had been at work for over 24 hours. And I think that it’s incredibly tough when you don’t get to see your family, when you don’t get that consistent sleep,” he said. “It’s tough.”
Murray also said the fact that Winnipeg is on pace to surpass last year’s total number of homicides.
“We finished with 22 last year. Our eighth homicide last year was May 29, and now it’s March 12,” Murray said.
“It is an alarming stat… the fact that we’re already at eight homicides, two-and-a-half months earlier than last year.
“We’re not off to a great start.”
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