Hail of bullets shatters calm at housing project
A fusillade of gunfire has once again shattered the uneasy calm of a troubled South Ottawa neighbourhood.
The exchange of gunfire Wednesday night took place in a public housing area on Marlin Private between an unknown number of individuals.
One woman, too terrified to have her name published, said she ducked as up to 15 shots were f ired in the exchange that erupted just outside her home. The sound of guns going off has become all too familiar on the street.
Police were called around 9 p. m. to the street located near Bank Street and Hunt Club Road. Police say no one was injured and they are looking for three men, although they have not released descriptions.
“I was afraid because I didn’t know what was going on,” said the woman. “I’m alone and I’m scared.”
Shortly after the shooting, the woman heard a man screaming for help. When she peeked outside, she saw the man rolling on the ground. He then got up and ran away.
The street of two-storey rowhouses is an Ottawa Community Housing project. It has seen its share of violence over the past few years.
But “this is just pure crazy,” said the woman, as she said the gunplay brought back memories of an incident last summer in which a man used her home as a shield while he shot at someone in a nearby house. She said police dislodged a bullet from the brick of her neighbour’s home when they collected evidence from that incident.
On Thursday, two Ottawa Police forensic officers were searching a house in the 400 block of Marlin Private for evidence. Neighbours say they believe that a woman involved with drug dealers lives in that home. Several residents say they have complained to Ottawa Community Housing to have her evicted.
Ottawa Community Housing would not comment on whether complaints have been made or if they plan to evict the tenant.
“Criminal activity, depending on the facts, is a ground that can result in the eviction of a tenant and is definitely a route that we will take if the grounds are there,” said Laurene Wagner, an executive director with Ottawa Community Housing.
Eviction can be a slow process, however. Ottawa police Supt. Mike Flanagan said the proposed Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act (SCAN) could be an effective tool to fight crime in problem areas.
The provincial legislation, proposed by Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, would give authorities the power to shut down nuisance dwellings for up to 90 days.
Residents say the street has been the focus of several fire or police investigations over the past few years.
Just a few weeks ago, a home at 474 Marlin Private was destroyed by fire. It sits directly across the street from the home now under investigation.
Firefighters found a 74-year-old woman unconscious in her kitchen. She suffered life-threatening injuries from smoke inhalation and burns to her airway and chest. She is still in hospital.
The most notorious incident was July 22, 2008, when Cathleen Lavoie, 43, was shot in the neck with a semiautomatic handgun. Her boyfriend pleaded guilty to putting his pistol to her neck. Lavoie is now paralysed from the waist down.
In October 2006, pellets from a shotgun blast struck a man and two cars. Police said children were playing nearby when the gun was fired. Several hours later, a 22-yearold man showed up at The Ottawa Hospital’s General campus with a gunshot wound to the arm.
In 2005, a man was hospitalized with stab wounds to his face and neck after a fight on Marlin Private involving “numerous” men, police said at the time.
Ottawa police continue to investigate Wednesday’s incident. Anyone with information should call the guns and gangs unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5050, or Crime Stoppers at 613233-8477.