Twice as many homicides so far this year compared to the 'anomaly' of 2020

·2 min read
Causes of death including shootings, stabbings and one use of vehicle. (Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)
Causes of death including shootings, stabbings and one use of vehicle. (Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)

The number of homicides in 2021 has nearly doubled from this time last year but Edmonton police say that big increase is likely a reflection of COVID-19 and the restrictions brought in place during spring 2020.

As of Friday, the city had recorded 14 deaths, of which 13 are confirmed homicides and one that is still classified as suspicious, said Insp. Brent Dahlseide, of the Edmonton Police Service's major crimes unit.

Four of them took place over six days.

"Last year is a bit of an anomaly," Dahlseide said Friday.

"When we had our initial lockdown due to the COVID restrictions in the spring of 2020, it truly did seem to put a damper on the number of homicides that we saw. However, when we hit mid-July, our numbers really seemed to take off."

By May 2020, Edmonton police had recorded seven deaths. By the end of the year, there were 37.

Apart from the pandemic's apparent effect on homicides early last year, Dahlseide said there's no clear explanation for 2021's higher numbers.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a major theme or reasoning to explain the increase," he 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."

Dahlseide said the causes of death range from shootings to stabbings to the use of a vehicle.

None are connected to domestic violence but one has been connected to gang activity.

"I would say there is no concern for the public, in general, to be fearful that there is a rash of one type of homicide over the other," he said.

Dahlseide said police are making progress with the cases. Five have been cleared and he expects arrests to happen on some others in coming months.

For the past six years, Edmonton has seen an average of 35 homicides per year.