City’s drug prob­lem

Po­lice chief says rash stand­offs re­lated to city’s drug prob­lems

Winnipeg Sun - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT BILLECK sbil­leck@post­media.com Twit­ter: @scot­tbil­leck

Win­nipeg po­lice say a 16-year-old boy fired at of­fi­cers from in­side a home in the city’s North End, spark­ing a tense, hours­long stand­off on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

A se­ries of events lead­ing up to the stand­off be­gan around 6 a.m. that morn­ing when shots were fired into a home in the 300 block of Aikins Street near Moun­tain Av­enue.

Speak­ing at po­lice head­quar­ters on Thurs­day, po­lice chief Danny Smyth said the WPS’S K9 unit had tracked the in­ves­ti­ga­tion back to the Ban­ner­man home, where five peo­ple were taken into cus­tody.

Around 1 p.m., of­fi­cers sit­ting on the home saw the youth re­turn and be­gan to open fire on po­lice from sev­eral lo­ca­tions from in­side the house.

One of­fi­cer re­turned fire and what fol­lowed, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, was a widescale re­sponse that in­cluded over 100 of­fi­cers and the ac­ti­va­tion of the ser­vice’s emer­gency op­er­a­tions cen­tre and in­ci­dent com­mand re­sponse.

“This led to a long af­ter­noon," Smyth said. "It’s fright­en­ing and it’s trau­matic for ev­ery­one in­volved.

“Events like this put tremen­dous strain on our front­line of­fi­cers.”

Three schools in the area were locked down and res­i­dents were told to stay in their homes dur­ing the or­deal.

Po­lice even­tu­ally re­sorted to us­ing gas to flush the sus­pect out of the home. He sur­ren­dered just af­ter 6 p.m.

Smyth said 50 of the of­fi­cers in­volved were in­ter­viewed and sup­ported by the WPS’S be­havioural health unit and nine were placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave so they can rest and re­cover from the event.

“Most cops won’t ex­pe­ri­ence an event like this in their ca­reer,” Smyth said. “If it wasn’t for the tac­ti­cal de­ploy­ment of the ar­mored ve­hi­cle and some of the other tac­tics de­ployed, I don’t think this would have had a good out­come.”

Po­lice were still try­ing to put to­gether the pieces of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Wed­nes­day. Smyth said they are work­ing as quickly as they can to get the neigh­bour­hood back to nor­mal.

Mean­while, Smyth couldn’t speak to how the youth was able to get back into the home af­ter po­lice set up a perime­ter. Smyth wouldn’t name the type of gun used but said it was safe to say it was a ri­fle.

Po­lice dis­played a pic­ture of one of their cruis­ers that had been rid­dled with bul­lets dur­ing the in­ci­dent. Smyth also said that the ser­vice’s ar­mored res­cue ve­hi­cle was struck by gun­shots.

The North End stand­off was pre­ceded by a short stand­off in the West End ear­lier in the day.

Po­lice say they were called to a rob­bery in the 500 block of Young Street af­ter re­ports of two masked men, one with a gun, en­ter­ing a busi­ness.

Two em­ploy­ees were held at gun­point while a cus­tomer, who made the ini­tial 911 call, was able to es­cape.

One of the sus­pects sur­ren­dered a short time later and the other was ar­rested in­side the busi­ness. Po­lice re­cov­ered masks and an air­soft gun.

Two men — 29-year-old Daniel Ste­wart and 33-yearold Christo­pher White­side — face nu­mer­ous charges stem­ming from the in­ci­dent.

Wed­nes­day’s stand­offs were the third and fourth in the last two weeks in Win­nipeg.

Last Fri­day, po­lice ar­rested a 15-year-old boy and charged him with at­tempted mur­der af­ter a woman was shot be­fore an en­su­ing 12-hour stand­off with po­lice on Chud­ley St.

On Oct. 26, po­lice used less-than-lethal force to sub­due a 33-year-old man who had bar­ri­caded him­self with a knife in­side a beer ven­dor on Plaza Drive.

Smyth, who has be­moaned the city’s bur­geon­ing meth cri­sis in the past, did so again on Thurs­day. He couldn’t con­firm that the 16-year-old had used the drug prior to squar­ing off with po­lice, but be­lieve drugs were in­volved.

“There are sim­i­lar themes play­ing into many of th­ese events,” Smyth said. “Cer­tainly, th­ese crimes are as­so­ci­ated to meth, drug use or they are as­so­ci­ated to guns and gangs in­volved in meth and traf­fick­ing.”

Po­lice were also in­ves­ti­gat­ing an­other shoot­ing on Thurs­day in the same area as Wed­nes­day’s in­ci­dent.

A 23-year-old man was rushed to hospi­tal af­ter be­ing shot in his up­per body by a man who was walk­ing with a woman in the Ban­ner­man/sal­ter area around 6:20 p.m. on Tues­day.

“It is very pos­si­ble it could be re­lated to in­ci­dent,” Const. Tammy Skrabek said.

CHRIS PROCAYLO/ WIN­NIPEG SUN PHO­TOS

Win­nipeg Po­lice Chief Danny Smyth speaks to the me­dia yes­ter­day and laid the blame for a rash of po­lice stand­offs on the rise of metham­phetamine on city streets. In­set, Win­nipeg Po­lice sur­round a res­i­dence in North Win­nipeg Wed­nes­day.

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