Winnipeg at 14, on pace to set record, already tied with TO!
Winnipeg is on pace to surpass 2004 as the record year for murders.
Magdalena and Joel Labossiere, shot to death Sunday in their St. Vital home, brought the city's homicide count to 14, just four months into the year.
Police crime statistics show that this year's rate has almost doubled from 2007 - From Jan. 1 to Apr. 13 of that year, eight homicides were recorded. There were 26 by the end of the year.
Winnipeg's record for homicides in one year was set late in 2004, when 48-year-old Ralph Bell was stabbed to death in a domestic dispute at a Main Street apartment suite. He became the year's 34th Winnipeg homicide statistic, eclipsing the previous record of 30 in 1987.
In 2005, homicides dropped dramatically to 25. By 2006, it was 22.
Const. Pat Chabidon said other units in the department are pitching in to assist homicide detectives with their growing workload, but there's little they can do to affect the homicide rate in a city beset with gang and drug problems.
"Most of the homicides in this city end up being fuelled by the drug trade or gang activity - if you are involved (in these) you increase your chance of suffering a violent death," Chabidon said, adding he wasn't blaming the victims of the homicides, but rather that there's a criminal element that leads to violent crime.
Chabidon added that while citizens in Winnipeg not involved with gangs or drugs are relatively safe, there's little police can do to cool off the rate at which killings happen.
"The hard thing for us is that homicide for us is an after-the-fact thing," he said.
Police said that traditionally the summer months are when a spike in murders takes place, and the rash of them so far this year is disconcerting.
"I don't even want to think of where we're going this year...it's not summer yet," Chabidon said.
In virtually all of the 2004 slayings, the victim knew the assailant, but a marked difference is that only 10 of all the incidents that year involved guns.
Ten of this year's 14 killings to date have involved the use of a firearm.
Toronto enjoying period of tranquility
No homicides for past month, police say
By: James Turner
Updated: April 22 at 02:00 AM CDT
AS Winnipeggers reel from a spate of recent homicides, it has been eerily quiet in the centre of Canada's universe.
Up until last Thursday, Toronto hadn't recorded a single homicide in exactly a month, indicating that the megacity could be on a course to slash its murder rate by nearly half from the 84 that took place there last year.
Prior to the stabbing incident that left Joseph Samai, 29, dead, the last murder in the big smoke was on Mar. 18, when 35-year-old Sasha Haroutiun was killed after being shot inside his loft.
Winnipeg and Toronto have now each recorded 14 homicides this year.
However, a Toronto Police Service spokesman indicated the dip in homicides in the country's largest city is likely an anomaly.
Mark Pugash said while Toronto police are grateful for the quiet, the numbers will likely climb as 2008 continues.
"What we see over the course of the year is a period where we'll go several weeks without any homicides, then we've had weekends where we'll have three or four," Pugash said.
Winnipeg's murder rate has been running at a fever pitch, with nine homicides in less than a month.
Like Winnipeg, the Big Smoke is also noticing a dramatic spike in homicides involving guns in recent years - out of the 84 murders there in 2007, 43 were gun-related.
Six of Winnipeg's last nine homicides have involved guns.
Pugash said gun crime comes in waves. "One of the possible explanations for the increase last year was there appear to be many more that were targeted, homicides which our chief has called assassinations," he said.
Winnipeg police are beefing up efforts in problem areas of the city to address the frequency of handgun incidents and violent crime. They say many of the homicides in the city are linked to the gang and drug trades.