‘We have seen some very violent crimes’: A look at the crimes committed at the hands of youth in Winnipeg

A spree of attacks that have left two people dead in a Winnipeg community has one advocate calling for help to curb the violence and crimes committed at the hands of youth.

On Friday, the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) acknowledged the rash of violence – the most recent of which ripped through the community of Point Douglas earlier this week.

“We are rocked by these incidents. It is shocking that two homicides have happened at the hands of two youths for completely unknown reasons at this time,” said Const. Dani McKinnon, a public information officer with the WPS.

Winnipeg police have arrested one teenager on charges of aggravated assault and two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Danielle Dawn Ballantyne and Marvin William Felix.

Police are searching for a second teenager wanted on the same charges.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police searching for teenage suspect wanted in two random homicides

“We have seen some very violent crimes and I don’t know why they are being perpetuated by youth,” said Const. Dani McKinnon, a public information officer with the Winnipeg Police Service.

“At the end of the day, the youth that are committing these crimes are often involved in situations where (there are) gangs, or drugs, or they are intoxicated.”

According to data obtained by CTV News, as of May – the most recent data available – there were 577 crimes involving youth between the ages of 12 and 17 in Winnipeg.

Of these crimes, 301 resulted in charges. Police said 182 of those were related to violent crimes, with the highest number of charges related to assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.

(Source: CTV News Winnipeg)

That is compared to 1,101 youth crimes that were committed throughout last year, including 605 that resulted in charges – more than half of which were related to violent crimes.

According to the Winnipeg Police Service’s 2021 statistical report, a crime involving a youth happens every eight hours, while a violent crime happens every 13.4 hours.

(Source: CTV News Winnipeg)

It is a trend that concerns Point Douglas community advocate Sel Burrows, who says he has been hearing of several crimes involving youth recently.

“These are teenagers. We’ve had 13-year-olds arrested for knife offences,” Burrows told CTV News on Thursday.

He points to a lack of recreation in the inner city as a contributing factor to the violence. Burrows, who used to work as a recreation director, said there used to be lots of programming for young people.

“None of that exists anymore. It is just disgusting,” he said. “They’ve got to have professional staff like I used to be, who’s there, who can bring in volunteers who are needed, and get all these kids doing positive things rather than what we are seeing in the last couple of days.”

Burrows praised the work of organizations including the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre which is helping youth. However, he said more needs to be done.

“If we want our kids to grow up healthy and not get involved in gangs and negative behaviour, one of the many things we need to do is we need to rejuvenate our community centres.” 

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