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Hamilton police chief cites ‘lack of evidence’ for few charges in city’s shooting incidents

Hamilton police chief Eric Girt told Global News that no surveillance cameras and few witnesses are some of the challenges investigators tend to face when piecing together facts in a shooting case. 900 CHML file photo

Hamilton’s top cop says lack of evidence is the reason for a seemingly low number of charges, despite 20 shootings so far this year.

In 2019, only a total of eight charges have been laid in connection with reported shootings in Hamilton.

Chief of police Eric Girt, however, told Global News Radio’s Bill Kelly that things like no surveillance cameras and few witnesses are some of the challenges investigators tend to face when piecing together the facts in a shooting.

“You’ve got to remember that many of these are just shots fired at a house with either no video or nobody knew who fired the rounds, or we find the casings the next day,” said Girt. “So really, in terms of evidence, there’s not a ton of evidence there.”

LISTEN: Hamilton Police Chief Eric Girt talks with Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly

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The chief says sufficient evidence is very much a threshold for proceeding with charges in any shooting case, and in many cases, the lack thereof is the reason they don’t lay charges.

“There’s two tests,” Girt said. “Reasonable grounds to arrest somebody in the first place, and then there’s a reasonable prospect of conviction, which of course you have to meet that threshold in a court.”

READ MORE: Youths facing 1st-degree murder charge in Hamilton’s 2nd homicide of 2019: police

The chief goes on to say that despite the low number of charges, serious gun incidents like homicides and aggravated assaults typically are solved.

“Where we have evidence, we have complainants where people are telling us what happened, and then we worked to solve those,” said Girt.

The chief did, however, admit there are other instances in which victims may know something, but simply don’t share that information with investigators.

“Often, as you know, people are not telling a certain thing, and we know that,” said Girt. “We understand the trepidation. That’s why we talk about Crime Stoppers with guaranteed anonymity.”

READ MORE: Hamilton police’s Dan Kinsella chosen as new Halifax Regional Police chief

Hamilton police are investigating two homicides among 2019’s 20 shootings.

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The first was on Hamilton’s mountain brow, where investigators say Cece Luppino, the son of mobster Rocco Luppino, was shot in January. Police are still looking for the suspect in that case.

Meanwhile, three male youths are facing first-degree murder charges after a 17-year-old male was found dead in a vehicle near Patterson and Wesley Road in Dundas in April.

WATCH: Hamilton police say Ancaster, Ont. homicide ‘definitely targeted’

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Hamilton police say Ancaster, Ont. homicide ‘definitely targeted’ – Sep 14, 2018