Residents and business owners in a west-end neighbourhood still feel safe, but are deeply disturbed about the late-afternoon slaying of an elderly man in a busy strip mall parking lot.
Some residents, however, do want something done on panhandling issues in their neighbourhood.
“This could happen anywhere in this city, it happens, it happens, you never know,” said Amarjit Perhar, an owner of the L.A. Deli Subs & Salads restaurant.
“Something like this could happen in front of your house. It can happen anywhere, but you have to be strong.”
Perhar’s restaurant faced the scene where a 77-year-old man was stabbed to death Wednesday afternoon.
Perhar’s wife was working at the restaurant when the attack occurred, and though she didn’t see anything, the owner says she was so upset she couldn’t sleep last night.
The owner says the area was once riddled with crime, but recent actions by police have changed his neighbourhood for the better.
“We will see some drunks come in here, and sometimes some of them will ask old people for money,” said an employee of a convenience store two doors down. The worker wished to remain anonymous.
Although no one knows why the senior was attacked, there is speculation the man was assaulted by an aggressive panhandler.
“We have dealt with, I would say, an escalation of the aggressiveness of panhandling,” said Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd. “This is a concern for us.”
Coun. Amarjeet Sohi says aggressive panhandling is becoming an escalating problem in Edmonton.
“We need to have some guidelines in place where you can discourage aggressive panhandling and also deal with social problems that comes with this, such as homelessness, drug addictions and mental health,” said Sohi.