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Level of gang violence in Alberta is 'intolerable': Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis


Alberta's Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services says he's "deeply concerned" by a recent string of brazen shootings in Alberta believed to be connected to organized crimes and gangs.

Mike Ellis was in Lethbridge on Wednesday to announce a new crime-fighting unit in Southern Alberta.

"I live in Calgary, we're all from Alberta, we're all Canadian, and to see this rise in violent crime lately... let me be clear here, we're doing what we can to tackle organized crime."

The announcement comes a day after a 14-year-old Calgary boy and his 18-year-old brother were charged in connection to the city's 18th homicide of 2023.

The victim, who hasn't yet been identified by police, was shot and killed, outside a Marlborough Park strip mall on Monday afternoon. The gun violence left two others injured.

The suspects fled the scene in a black truck tracked by police's HAWCS helicopter.

Police say the suspects dumped the vehicle at Chinook Centre before getting into a waiting vehicle and travelling to the community of Dover.

There, police contained two homes in the 3200 and 3400 block of 30A Avenue S.E.

Charges were laid against the teen brothers the next day.

The 14-year-old boy cannot be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and the 18-year-old is also not being named due to his relation to the youth.

An autopsy was completed Wednesday, but police say they're still working with the family to identify the victim.

On Wednesday, police said officers had taken another man into custody in connection to the shooting. His arrest happened on Wednesday afternoon on Deerfoot Trail near Memorial Drive. 

"Over the next several hours, investigators will be interviewing this individual to determine his involved in the homicide, if any," police said. "additional details will be released if charges are laid."

In Edmonton, police continue to investigate a double homicide involving a high-level gang member and his 11-year-old son, who investigators believe was intentionally targeted.

In March, the province invested $4.4. Million into ALERT to create a gang suppression unit and a firearms investigative unit, and in July, Calgary received $8-million in federal funding to prevent gun violence.

"The level of gang violence that is going on throughout Alberta and, quite frankly, throughout Canada, is intolerable," Ellis said, adding he wants to see the federal government provide more funding to help tackle organized crime and pass Bill C-48.

The bill specifically targets those who are charged with a serious violent offence involving a weapon in cases where the person was convicted of a similar offence within the past five years, and puts the onus on some offenders to prove it would be safe for them to be let out of jail.

"People who are offenders need to know there are consequences for their actions, and right now, when you're seeing the rise of violent crimes where in broad daylight there is (sic) shootings going on not just in parking lots, but in communities where there is (sic) children and families. Why are they doing that? Reality is, because they feel there is (sic) no consequences," he said.


There have been five shootings in Calgary in the last week, and another outside city limits in Chestermere.

Alpreek Haulakh, an associate professor of economic, policy and justice studies at Mount Royal University, says while the frequency of these shootings is concerning, it's too early to tell if a gang war is playing out.

"We are not definitely sure how they are interconnected and who are part of those, because the perspective and the landscape of gangs is changing quite a bit in the past decade or so," she said.

"The younger groups are not very much organized, and I don't think they follow structural rules these days, they are not very well regulated and they are there for their own personal interests predominantly and associated with opportunity and making money.

"They are also less formal, I want to emphasize."


Calgary police have said that many of the shootings in the city this year appear to have been targeted, and that some may have been acts of retaliation.

Haulakh says it is challenging to determine if they are tied to a personal vendetta or part of a group conflict, but says it's common for youth to be exploited by gangs to do their dirty work.

"From the very get-go, they had been their soldiers, and using young people to into carry out their day-to-day activities is pretty common in this world," she said.

"They have been used to traffic drugs, they have been used to traffic weapons, they have been used to settle scores when there has been a retaliation and revenge going on."

Haulakh says there are multiple risk factors and reasons that may lead a young person down a path to organized crime or to join a gang, including poverty, mental health and addiction issues, trauma, serious illnesses, deaths and family ties to crime groups.

"Family plays a huge role," she said. "If there's substance abuse it can lead to violence and neglect, creating an unstable home for a young person. Not having enough parental supervision is also a big risk factor.


The Calgary John Howard Society launched a new gang-exit program, called New Ties, in July.

Bree Reid manages the community outreach and advocacy services team at the society, and says the program works with people who are 15 to 26 years of age, some who may be incarcerated, to move away from gang connections.

"We're getting lots of interest in the program and seeing that lots of agencies are seeing a need for it, so lots of collaboration for it, and lots of need in Calgary."

The program helps the youth get involved in recreation, school, employment and other goals they may have.

"Success can look like a lot of things for us and that's just making those positive changes and that looks different for each person we work with." Top Stories

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