Police chief says no 'simple thread' connecting recent Ottawa shootings

·3 min read
From left to right: Ahmed Siyad, 28, of Toronto; Mohamed Shire, 31, of Toronto; and Abdullahi Osman, 29, of Ottawa. Ottawa Police Service issued Canada-wide warrants for the three suspects in relation to a double homicide on Alta Vista Drive on May 28, 2021. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)
From left to right: Ahmed Siyad, 28, of Toronto; Mohamed Shire, 31, of Toronto; and Abdullahi Osman, 29, of Ottawa. Ottawa Police Service issued Canada-wide warrants for the three suspects in relation to a double homicide on Alta Vista Drive on May 28, 2021. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly says there's no "simple thread" connecting the recent spike in gun crimes that have left four people dead in the past week.

"The crimes that happened over the weekend, at this point there is no known connection between them," Sloly said during a virtual media call on Monday, referencing a handful of separate shootings across the city.

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is currently investigating four shootings since last Wednesday, when police were called to Palmerston Drive following the shooting of a 22-year-old man who was found dead inside a car. On Friday evening, Ottawa police were called to Alta Vista Drive after two brothers were shot dead.

Early Sunday morning, a 27-year-old man was shot to death in a parking lot near Cyrville and Meadowbrook roads. Police were also investigating another shooting on Woodroffe Avenue Sunday night, just after 7 p.m.

Sloly told reporters that one person was injured in the Sunday night shooting and is currently in hospital.

From left to right: Ahmed Siyad, 28, of Toronto; Mohamed Shire, 31, of Toronto; and Abdullahi Osman, 29, of Ottawa. Ottawa Police Service issued Canada-wide warrants for the three suspects in relation to a double homicide on Alta Vista Drive on May 28, 2021.
From left to right: Ahmed Siyad, 28, of Toronto; Mohamed Shire, 31, of Toronto; and Abdullahi Osman, 29, of Ottawa. Ottawa Police Service issued Canada-wide warrants for the three suspects in relation to a double homicide on Alta Vista Drive on May 28, 2021.(Ottawa Police Service)

OPS issued Canada-wide warrants Sunday in relation to Friday's double homicide. Toronto's Ahmed Siyad, 28, and Mohamed Shire, 31, as well as an Ottawa man, Abdullahi Osman, 29, are wanted for first-degree murder in the Alta Vista Drive shooting, and attempted murder of a third man.

OPS developing major plan: chief

"There is a commonality that relates to drugs but we cannot draw a nexus at this point to gangs."

Sloly said OPS has been developing a major operational plan, some of which it started implementing in response to the violence this past week, and is working to finalize some elements that involve community partners.

Police have already started targeting high-risk locations over the weekend, he said.

Ottawa police vehicles parked at the scene of a shooting on Woodroffe Avenue near Baseline Road on Sunday night. Police say one person was taken to the hospital.
Ottawa police vehicles parked at the scene of a shooting on Woodroffe Avenue near Baseline Road on Sunday night. Police say one person was taken to the hospital.(S.B./Radio-Canada)

The plan will also include more integrated investigations between the homicide, guns and gangs, drug and neighbourhood resource teams.

"It will continue on until we see a flattening of the spike in crime that we've seen impacting the city," he said.

'Gang sprawl' not 'gang war,' says inspector

Sloly said gun violence usually involves a small group in a small area, but has recently spread to more parts of the city.

He said one element that may contribute to this spread is people who may be involved in transporting drugs to different parts of the city may do so in "unplanned and rather random locations" and that escalates to violence. He added that gangs have become less centralized and that makes traditional policing methods more difficult.

Insp. Carl Cartwright described this evolution in gang activity as "gang sprawl" during his presentation to the Ottawa Police Services Board Monday.

"We don't have a gang war problem. We do not have a turf war problem in the City of Ottawa," Cartwright said.

He said as gangs become looser associations, they've become more mobile and that has made gun violence a less "geographically focused" problem.

"A shooting in Alta Vista may not be related to Alta Vista at all," he said.

A map of 'shooting events' in Ottawa for the year 2021 up to May 30, presented at the Ottawa Police Services Board by Insp. Carl Cartwright.
A map of 'shooting events' in Ottawa for the year 2021 up to May 30, presented at the Ottawa Police Services Board by Insp. Carl Cartwright.(Ottawa police/Zoom)

Police said shootings are returning to the trend line that preceded the drop in 2020. So far this year, there have been 18 shooting incidents with no injuries, 11 with non-fatal injuries and 6 shooting homicides.

Sloly said the violence is the result of a complex combination of factors and requires a "whole of city" approach to address the causes of the crimes.