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Community leaders in Edmonton area where 2 police officers were killed say violence needs addressing

Community leaders in the northwest Edmonton neighbourhood where two police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty on Thursday say growing concerns about violence in the city need to be addressed.

“The gun violence is concerning to me and it’s something that I’ve brought up to council before,” said Coun. Erin Rutherford, who represents Ward Anirniq, which the Inglewood neighbourhood is located in.

Early Thursday morning, the Edmonton Police Service confirmed two constables were shot at an apartment building when they responded to a domestic violence call. They were taken to hospital where they were declared dead.

READ MORE: 2 Edmonton police officers shot and killed: ‘Unthinkable and horrific tragedy’

Global News has confirmed that the suspect gunman is a teen. Police said he died after sustaining what they believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Global News has confirmed the suspect’s mother is in hospital in serious but stable condition.

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“My heart goes out to the families and anyone that knew and loved and cared for these two amazing individuals that died in the line of duty,” Rutherford said.

Click to play video: '‘Unthinkable and horrific tragedy’: Edmonton police chief responds to fatal shooting of 2 officers'
‘Unthinkable and horrific tragedy’: Edmonton police chief responds to fatal shooting of 2 officers

She noted that even though this case may have stemmed from an isolated domestic violence issue, there are ripple effects throughout the community and city.

“When stuff like this happens, harm is already done to the community — people’s sense of safety and security. No matter the circumstances of the tragedy, whether it’s domestic or gang violence or anything else, it still affects sense of security.”

The deadly shooting occurred just days after a shooting at a pizzeria across the street from the Inglewood apartment building sent a man to hospital in critical condition.

Rutherford noted that she has been concerned that as efforts are made to address growing concerns about violence in the city’s core, those concerns are increasingly spreading beyond the downtown.

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READ MORE: Edmonton police believe shocking Pizza Hut shooting in Westmount area was a random attack

“We’re seeing that push out,” she said. “I had a coffee chat (with area residents) scheduled this morning… many talked to me about safety concerns in the area.

“I used to be a resident of Inglewood myself… so it’s near and dear to my heart.”

READ MORE: Condolences pour in following shooting deaths of Edmonton police officers

Last year, police said they had seen a 10 per cent increase in shootings in Edmonton compared to a year before. Just last month, EPS Chief Dale McFee spoke about his concerns regarding gun violence in the city, particularly as it relates to homemade firearms.

READ MORE: Ghost guns a growing concern for Edmonton police

Daryle Niedermayer is the president of the Inglewood Community League. He told Global News his thoughts are with the officers and their loved ones.

“Police have a very difficult job to do and you should never be shot for doing your lawful job,” he said. “Inglewood itself is a community of 8,000 residents. We’re a large neighbourhood with a lot of density and a lot of people, and some of them have issues and problems.

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“This was in a high-density part of the neighbourhood which has 30-some apartment buildings.”

Niedermayer said, overall, Inglewood is “a fairly safe neighbourhood.”

“We don’t have a lot of violence inside of our borders,” he said. “But things happen.”

According to Niedermayer, the building in which the officers were killed is inhabited by many families, including many new citizens who arrived in Canada after leaving countries in which they felt unsafe.

He said the community is working to provide support for those struggling with the trauma of what happened on Thursday, especially those whose mental well-being is already vulnerable from fleeing violence in their native countries.

Linda Fjelsted lives in a nearby apartment building and told The Canadian Press she woke up Thursday morning when she heard the police activity.

“I heard the yelling and the talking and the police telling people to get back (in) their apartments,” she said. “The police were very, very upset.

Fjelsted said her building is mostly quiet and people take pride in taking care of their residences. She also said the area is full of people from different ethnic backgrounds.

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“I like it here,” she said.

“We need to really encourage people to find the supports that they need, whether that is their ethnic group, their family group or that’s the neighbours around them,” Niedermayer said, adding he and other communities hope to “create a sense where we know who our neighbours are.”

“(Create a community where we) can reach out when we have a problem and we can have somebody say, ‘Listen, can I buy you a coffee? Can I sit down with you for a while and help you through this?'”

Niedermayer said while he cannot speak to what led to any one act of violence in the city in recent months, he believes the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health restrictions that came with it have taken a toll on many people.

“We felt alone I think for a couple of years,” he said. “And we need to realize that we don’t need to be alone as a people anymore.”

READ MORE: Father-to-be and ‘snow angel’: Slain Edmonton officers Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan remembered

The EPS has identified the officers who died as Const. Travis Jordan, 35, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30.

Jordan had been with EPS for eight-and-a-half years and Ryan had been with the services for five-and-a-half years.

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–With files from Sarah Komadina, Global News and Angela Amato, The Canadian Press

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