The number of homicide investigations the Edmonton Police Service has undertaken so far this year has doubled over this time last year, but the homicide unit says there doesn’t appear to be any trend or reason behind the recent spike.
As of Friday, 14 deaths have been directed to the EPS homicide section for investigation. So far, 13 have been confirmed homicides and one remains suspicious at this time.
Looking back to the same time frame last year, Insp. Brent Dahlseide with the EPS major crimes branch said there were seven homicide investigations..
“While I know many of you are wondering why that’s the case, unfortunately, we don’t have a major theme or reasoning to explain the increase,” Dahlseide said.
“There is no common thread. The homicides themselves are not related to one another in any way that we’ve seen to this point this year.”
When it comes to the 14 investigations so far this year, Dahlseide said none were spousal related. Four of the deaths included the use of an edged weapon, four involved a firearm and one involved the use of a vehicle as a weapon, the inspector explained.
Dahlseide said there’s also no pattern to where in the city the homicides are happening, every division of the city has seen at least one death so far this year.
“We can’t predict truly how or where our next homicide is going to occur.”
However, Dahlseide noted none appear to be random.
“The suspect and the complainant in the homicides either appeared to know one another… or the suspect may know an associate to our complainant.”
While there was a brief lull in investigations last spring during the first COVID-19 shutdown, Dahlseide said police also can’t say the pandemic had led to an uptick in homicides.
“I can’t say that the pandemic itself is a driver behind our rise of homicides from July until now… Again, we did have that drop and maybe we can contribute that initial drop last spring to the fact that people weren’t out and when that lockdown was truly occurring and we didn’t have people interacting with one another as much or at social events or maybe bars, what have you,” he said.
“I really would have a hard time saying our pandemic is a contributor to a drive in our numbers.”
The last week has been particularly active with four deaths occurring in just six days. Dahlseide said there’s no rhyme nor reason to when spikes occur, but added Edmonton typically experiences one or two periods each year when police will see three or four investigations in on week.
“Whenever we have a run like we just did with four investigations in six days and we start to advise the media or general public that there are a number of deaths being investigated in a short period of time, there’s immediately kind of an angst and a reaction across the general public of, ‘Oh boy, this city, it must be very dangerous,’ or, ‘What’s different now? Should I be afraid? Or should I be aware of something that’s going on?’
“There is no concern for the public in general to be fearful that there is a rash of one type of a homicide over another; that say, spousal violence, homicides are spiking, that gang-related homicides are spiking,” Dahlseide said.
“There are not trends or patterns like that… homicides aren’t out of control in Edmonton.”
Dahlseide said the current trend puts Edmonton on pace to record 38 homicides this year.
The number of homicides recorded in the city has fluctuated over the last several years as follows:
2015 – 32 homicides
2016 – 42 homicides
2017 – 42 homicides
2018 – 28 homicides
2019 – 27 homicides
2020 – 38 homicides
Charges have been laid in five of the 14 deaths so far this year and Dahlseide anticipated charges to be laid in several more in the coming months.