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Kamloops top cop addresses gun violence in the city

Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller addresses recent gun violence in Kamloops on Nov. 7, 2017.
November 07, 2017 - 6:30 PM

"THE PUBLIC SHOULD NOT PANIC."

KAMLOOPS - The officer in charge of the Kamloops RCMP detachment is reassuring the public they have enough resources in place to keep the community safe.

Supt. Brad Mueller held a news conference today, Nov. 7, in response to several recent gun-related incidents in Kamloops.

He called the past 10 days in the city "unprecedented" but says there's no reason for the public to panic.

"We're very much aware of the recent increase in gun-related calls," Mueller said. "I am concerned. I'm always concerned when there's gunfire."

The recent spur of gun violence began on Oct. 23 at a problem home on the North Shore, when two people were taken to hospital after a shooting. Mueller said the residence on Nelson Avenue has been home to numerous complaints of criminal activity.

Mueller said a number of firearms have been confiscated from the home since the shooting. A search was conducted there last weekend in connection to the manhunt for Michael Shawn Boyer, 31, who was in an alleged confrontation with a police officer outside a Valleyview motel on Nov. 4.

Mueller said police had received dozens of tips from the public regarding Boyer's whereabouts, and believed he could be at the problem home on Nelson Avenue. Police said he has been connected to the home previously. Boyer wasn't there, but police did confiscate four firearms from the residence.

Boyer was later found at a Fortune Drive home, where one of his associates lives. At this point Boyer has not been connected to the Nelson Avenue shooting last month.

On Oct. 27, areas of the city were shut down when a suspect in a domestic violence incident fled to G & M Trailer Park on Kamloops Indian Band reserve and holed up in a trailer for hours. Shane William Caron has been charged in connection to that incident including four counts of attempted murder for allegedly firing at police officers.

Police said after the incident they believed Caron was on drugs at the time of the standoff.

Another shooting this past weekend at a Holt Street apartment left an innocent bystander injured, after a firearm was discharged inside of an apartment unit during a violent altercation. A man in a neighbouring unit was hit by a bullet and taken to hospital.

Police announced at today's news conference that they arrested a 28-year-old man who allegedly discharged the firearm, and charges including robbery with a firearm and careless use of a firearm are being recommended to Crown counsel.

While the spate of gun violence in the city isn't connected to organized crime, Mueller said the common thread in each incident appears to be drugs.

All of these incidents have happened in just over one month since Red Scorpions co-founder Konaam Shirzad was shot and killed outside his Kamloops home. Mueller said Shirzad's death leaves a void in the drug trade, which could be compelling low-level drug dealers to try and take his place. 

THE RISK OFFICERS FACE

At the beginning of the news conference, Mueller paid respect to the fallen Abbotsford police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty yesterday, Nov. 6, and said it's a stark reminder of the risk men and women in police forces put themselves at when doing their job every day.

"It speaks to the inherent risks we face," Mueller said.

He pointed out that the increase in gun violence is not just being felt in Kamloops, but in communities across the province. In 2013, Kamloops RCMP received three calls for shots fired, in 2014 they received five calls, in 2015 they received two calls, in 2016 they received six calls and so far this year the Kamloops RCMP detachment has received 10 shots fired calls.

"The public should not panic," Mueller said. "Our number one focus is keeping the community safe."

He added that although the detachment is pushing for more resources locally, they have enough resources to protect the city.

Mounted Police Professional Association spokesperson Rob Creasser, who is also a retired Kamloops Mountie, says Kamloops has less than adequate resourcing for their force, and more needs to be done to keep the public and police officers safe.

"The RCMP is in crisis and if we can't keep our officers safe how are we going to keep the public safe?" Creasser asked in a phone interview with iNFOnews.ca today.

Creasser said understaffing is a chronic problem within the RCMP, and if the right amount of funding can't be injected into the force, officials should consider disbanding it. He says the government needs to ensure the RCMP has adequate resourcing, but right now that's not happening.

Police officers in Canada being shot in the line of duty are not common, although they do happen. Creasser pointed to tragedies like the Mayerthorpe, Alta. shooting when four RCMP officers were killed, or the 2014 shooting in Moncton, N.B. where three RCMP officers were shot and killed.

He said if more funding for RCMP resources didn't come after those tragedies, he doesn't know what it will take.

"I would love to tell you that it would have taken a major incident like Mayerthorpe or Moncton, but apparently that’s still not enough of a situation," he said. "What it’s going to take is a very engaged electorate to talk to their politicians, whether it be at the municipal, provincial, or federal level and say ‘enough is enough.’"

For the RCMP to succeed, Creasser said, there needs to be more funding, keeping the RCMP at arms-length from the government, have the head of the RCMP report to Parliament, and have an independent person appoint the head of the RCMP.

In the news conference, Mueller acknowledged the days of extra work officers have had to put in to attend the recent incidents lately, including last night when a semi-truck driver was allegedly held at gunpoint on Highway 5.

"These incidents have placed a tremendous tax on all of our members," Mueller said.

He said there will be a larger police presence in Kamloops in the coming days, and he has been in talks with the Southeast District about bringing the uniformed gang task force into the city.

"We need a break. I'll be very honest, we need a break, we need a bit of a reprieve," Mueller said. "But if another incident happens, we're prepared and we will respond."

For more on the recent gun violence in the city, go here.


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