The White Pony Lodge has been hearing increased concerns about young kids getting involved in gangs during its safety patrols of the North Central neighbourhood.
It’s an issue that one of the group’s coordinators is familiar with.
“I definitely started being groomed into the lifestyle at 11 years old,” Shawna Oochoo said.
Early in the morning on July 7, a 12-year-old boy was shot on the 1200 block of Garnet Street. Two boys, aged 12 and 14, were arrested in connection to the incident.
Nearby residents voiced concerns about area kids getting involved in gangs. They said it’s been a growing issue in the past month.
“They definitely become desensitized to all of it,” she explained.
“It’s almost like a natural occurrence, when really a lot of neighbourhoods aren’t facing the same type of issues.”
The White Pony Lodge has been doing patrols for a month. Oochoo said they’re starting to get recognized and hopes they can be a positive influence for kids, showing them that gangs aren’t the only option.
“They don’t see that far into their future and how this can affect them in the long run,” she said.
Rise in Firearms Offences
“In comparison to the last decade, we’re seeing about a third increase in the presence of firearms and weapons related offences this year,” Regina Police Service Supt. Corey Zaharuk said.
He explained that this increase can be linked to the spike in property crimes this year. Firearms, both real and realistic looking air-soft guns, have been stolen in these robberies.
Zaharuk said these BB or pellet guns keep appearing in firearms calls and are a growing concern.
“They’re easily accessible. It’s very difficult to tell the difference between these guns and those that are of a higher calibre,” he said.
Two Children Threatened With a Pellet Gun
Back on June 26, a realistic looking pellet gun created some very real trauma for two young girls.
The girls, aged 11 and 10, were playing in the gardens at Government House.
It was a fun night until Branson Mercredi, 19, approached the girls and threatened them with a Powerline .177 calibre pellet handgun.
The girls ran to the 10-year-old’s home and police quickly arrived on the scene and arrested Mercredi.
The 11-year-old’s mother said her daughter hasn’t been the same since.
“She will no longer sleep in her own room, she is having night terrors.
“She is not going any further than the yard because she is afraid,” Michelle van Everdink said.
Mercredi pleaded guilty to a list of charges. He’s currently living at home, but with a number of conditions including: a curfew keeping him at home between 10:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., he’s not allowed to possess anything that could reasonably be considered a weapon, he must avoid contact with his victims, and he must submit to warrantless searches by police.
His next court appearance is July 25.
Van Everdink and her daughter are still worried though because Mercredi lives about a three-minute walk from their house.
According to van Everdink, her daughter spent number of days with family out of town to calm her nerves and returned to Regina on Monday.
She’s back home because her mom is partnering with Bikers Against Child Abuse in an effort to make her feel safe again.
“We’re all going to be rallying around her and getting her confidence back.”