‘Really angry, really disgusted’: Winnipeg passes homicide record with 8 weeks to go

A shooting on Saturday has officially made 2022 the deadliest year on record in Winnipeg.

Tristan James Raynard Asham, 21, died after being shot in the Exchange District Saturday morning, becoming the city’s 45th homicide this year.

Winnipeg’s previous homicide record was 44, set in 2019, meaning 2022 has surpassed the mark with around eight weeks left.

Sel Burrows, a founding member of Point Douglas Powerline, has been trying to reduce drugs, crime and gang activity in the city for decades. He said the new record is a disappointing accomplishment.

“I’m really angry, really disgusted, sad we’re going to hit 50 murders,” he said, “That’s 50 lives that have ended.”

According to the Winnipeg Police Service, the new record comes amid a trend in violent crime fuelled by a variety of issues.

“Substance abuse, whether it be alcohol or drugs, and sometimes it’s drug-related or gang-related, so we have to keep in mind that there is usually some kind of link between the people that are being assaulted and the victims of homicides,” said Cst. Claude Chancy, when asked if Winnipeggers should be worried about the rise.

Chancy said people should focus on the victims, noting the stat is more than just a number — something Karen Wiebe, the executive director of the Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance, knows firsthand.

“There’s a ripple effect, of course, from the loss of that person, so every person that knew that person is impacted by their sudden loss and especially by the brutality and the horror of it,” explained Wiebe.

Wiebe’s 20-year-old son TJ was murdered in 2003, a tragedy she still feels nearly two decades later.

“All the gamut of all the emotions that you can think of in terms of any death, magnified by 100,” she said.

Wiebe said it is important for people who know someone who died in a homicide to contact MOVA for support, as they don’t have access to the names of the victims’ families.

Burrows believes the city needs to be proactive in trying to bring the homicide number down.

“We can never get it down to zero, but that’s at least double what it should be,” he said.

Burrows said there needs to be more neighbourhood watches where people can report drug activity.

He also suggests a change in the criminal probation system.

“The number one crime prevention program we have is the terms, the conditions of bail recognizance,” said Burrows. “The knowledge of the terms for what they are being released on so they are not going to jail, that keeps those people honest for that period of time when there is proper supervision and proper enforcement.”

Burrows also said there needs to be more activities for youth to prevent them from falling into a life of crime.

“We have stripped the inner city of all of those teams. Our community centres are trying the best they can. They haven’t got the resources to do what we need to do, to have kids doing positive things rather than involved in crime.”

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