Experts are alarmed by the young age of suspects believed to be involved in a fatal shooting in northeast Calgary earlier this week.
According to a Tuesday news release, officers responded to reports of a shooting in the parking lot of the Trans Canada Center in Marlborough around 2 p.m.
When police arrived, they found the body of a man, as well as that of a man and a woman suffering from gunshot wounds. The two surviving victims were taken to hospital and police said they were in stable condition.
Two brothers, aged 14 and 18, were taken into custody and charged in connection with the shooting.
Police say a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be identified due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted of murder. He is due to appear in court on Wednesday, November 16.
An 18-year-old boy has also been charged with accessory after the fact to murder, but cannot be identified due to his connection to the 14-year-old boy. He is also scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, November 16.
“It is not surprising that in recent years, guns have replaced knives as the weapon of choice in most homicides. It’s an alarming trend to see the number of shootings we have,” said retired homicide detective Dave Sweet.
“These are not firearms used by lawful gun owners. These are weapons used by criminal groups that are recycled. If not collected, they are recycled by these groups and can end up all over the country. »
Sweet said that while anyone can be involved in organized crime, 14 is a very young age. He told PKBNEWS there is a deeper social problem that Calgary police may not be aware of.
“There’s some kind of breakdown somewhere that’s happening that we’re not really aware of,” he said.
“It’s hard to know what draws someone into this…I don’t think the consequences and reality only set in when the person is arrested and charged.
“I don’t know what drives a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old to follow the same path. I imagine that there is probably a lot of complexity in this relationship and that one can take inspiration from the other.
Many community organizations have programs aimed at preventing young people from becoming involved in organized crime.
Anila Lee-Yuen, president and CEO of the Center for Newcomers, has worked as a youth counselor for 25 years. She has worked with young gang members and young people involved in violent crime and questions the circumstances that led the brothers to turn to organized crime.
“What were the circumstances? What were the systemic problems? What are the specific issues that pushed these two young people to take this path? she says.
“I’ve seen young people get drawn into criminal activity and it really relates to their situation. There is almost always trauma in their family and personal lives. There is almost always poverty. There is always a feeling of hopelessness, isolation and not having anyone to really support you.
Lee-Yuen added that young people from newcomer families feel particularly obligated to become the breadwinner and care for their family members. Many of these young people sell drugs and participate in other criminal activities to bring money home.
“They hear the stories of this random group or this random person who was very successful, who was able to pay for all of their siblings’ education and bought a car and a house for their mother, all these things” , she says. said.
“I’ve been to too many funerals, that’s what breaks my heart. The victims, the innocent bystanders and the young people themselves… No one should witness the number of 14 and 15 year olds I saw buried.
“Often parents are also shocked, surprised and devastated by everything that happens to their children.”
Lee-Yuen said the Newcomers Center has a program aimed at youth at risk of being involved in criminal activity.
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The REAL ME intervention program works with newcomer youth and helps them define and achieve their goals. Youth will be introduced to a support team, which may include family members, religious leaders and service providers like substance abuse counselors. These young people are then given a plan to help them reach their potential, which could include academic and career support, leadership training and conflict resolution.
Currently, 40 young people are participating in the program and 40 others are on the waiting list. A minimum funding of $500,000 is needed to keep the program running, according to Lee-Yuen.
“We have a very long waiting list. We just don’t have enough resources,” she said.
“These two young people have been on our waiting list for six months and we have not been able to get them in. You start to think that if they could have gotten in, maybe we could have gotten interventions for them and maybe no one would have done it. is dead.”
Lee-Yuen said community support is very important to the success of the program.
“Every child just needs an adult in their life who says they care. That they will support them no matter what. It can change the entire trajectory of their lives,” she said.
Rod MacNeil, acting sergeant of youth services with the Calgary Police Service, said he was shocked when he learned the ages of the suspects. He said he had never seen a young person so involved in such a violent crime.
MacNeil said CPS has partnered with the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, the City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services to create early intervention programs for youth. This includes the Multi-Agency School Support Team (MASST), where police go to schools because school staff have seen signs of criminal activity or young people at risk of being involved in crime.
MacNeil said officers are paired with social workers and work with youth and their families to try to find out why they might be at risk. On average, MacNeil said the team will work with the student for a year to a year and a half before the young person graduates from the program.
The SCP also offers the Youth At Risk Development (YARD) program for young people aged 10 to 17. MacNeil said these youth will be referred to the program by their school or anyone in the community and will receive wraparound support.
“Sometimes for young people, it’s the only way of life they know,” MacNeil said. “We’ve seen a lot of these stories where these young people are going down the wrong path and if we can get involved at a young age, we can get them on the right path.
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