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Recent spate of ‘brazen’ Ottawa shootings concerning police

An unidentified member of the Ottawa Police Service was arrested and charged in relation to a domestic incident.
An unidentified member of the Ottawa Police Service was arrested and charged in relation to a domestic incident. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

A series of shootings in neighbourhoods across Ottawa this past week have police concerned for the safety of residents and asking for assistance from the public.

There have been six shootings reported in Ottawa since Saturday, according to the police.

The most recent took place Wednesday morning on Ritchie Street.

Ottawa police say they received multiple calls about shots fired on the street just before 2 a.m.

Responding officers found bullet casings and damaged property, but no injuries were reported.

Read more: Ottawa police seek witnesses to 3 separate weekend shootings

It was the second time this week shots were fired into a home on Ritchie Street, with officers responding to another call just before midnight on Saturday.

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Shots were then fired just after midnight on Monday on Woodridge Crescent and half an hour later on Summerville Avenue.

Police were also called to Pinecrest Road at approximately 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday after reports of more shots fired into a home.

“What’s most concerning about this particular surge of incidents… is how brazen this occurred,” said OPS Insp. Carl Cartwright in an interview with Global News.

The inspector with the OPS guns and gangs unit said police are worried any time there is a surge in shootings in Ottawa, but there is particular concern around incidents that seemingly target homes and neighbourhoods rather than specific individuals involved in a conflict.

Cartwright said the police are “fairly close” to identifying motives and suspects in the recent spate of shootings.

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In his comments to Global News, Cartwright said he was unable to speak to the ongoing homicide investigation into the shooting death of 21-year-old Mohamed Hassan, who was found dead on a footpath behind an East Ottawa school on Monday evening.

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But the other five shootings, which occurred largely around Ottawa’s west end, are at the very least linked geographically.

There is also a connection in the recent shootings to the homicide at a Gilmour Street Airbnb rental earlier in the year. Cartwright confirmed one of the properties damaged in the Ritchie Street shootings is home to the family of the deceased in the Gilmour Street homicide.

Cartwright declined to comment further on connections to the ongoing investigation, which saw a 15-year-old boy charged in May.

In response to the surge in shootings, the Ottawa police have increased their presence in the affected neighbourhoods.

Cartwright acknowledged sending more police into neighbourhoods is not a long-term solution to violence, but defended the need for increased policing following these shootings.

“In order to arrive at the long-term problem of why this is happening, we need to stop it from happening right now,” he said.

The inspector said addressing the root causes of violence is not just a police issue, pointing to social support needed to correct inequities and build a “resilient, self-sufficient community.”

OPS Chief Peter Sloly said in a presentation to the Ottawa Police Services Board earlier this week that better integration with non-profit, social and community organizations in the city is the “single biggest opportunity” for significant police reform locally.

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Cartwright said he has been talking to community and advocacy groups in recent days to hear concerns from residents of these neighbourhoods currently experiencing trauma.

He added that anyone with information on any of the recent shootings should reach out, anonymously if need be, to help police prevent further violence.

“I’m reticent in always getting on the phone and speaking to media to say we need the community to help us, but really, it is the truth,” he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the guns and gangs unit 613-236-1222 ext. 5050 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 for anonymous tips.

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