Temperatures finally soared in Edmonton — and the crime rate soared too.
“It was the first really busy weekend of the spring. We don’t usually see these call volumes or this many incidents until the summer months,” said Blair Edl, a staff sergeant with the Edmonton police.
Police were called to two shootings on Sunday, one near Lessard Mall in the west end and one at Kingsway Garden Mall. The 21-year-old male victim of the Lessard Mall shooting drove himself, or was driven, to the University of Alberta Hospital late Sunday night, where he received treatment for several non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Police arrested and then later released a suspect in the Kingsway Garden Mall shooting. Blood but no victim was found at the scene. Police believe the incident was gang related.
The shootings followed the city’s ninth homicide of the year, a stabbing and possible robbery of a pub-crawl bus driver early Saturday morning in the north end.
Edl noted there was a rash of calls on the weekend: weapons incidents, violence, vehicle break-ins and vandalism. He said Edmonton police received about 3,000 emergency 9-1-1 calls and more than 4,000 dispatch calls over the weekend — a big increase over the usual amount of calls this time of year.
“So far this year, 9-1-1 and dispatch calls to EPS are up five per cent,” Edl said.
Edl believes the increased criminal activity is mainly due to the city’s growing population. However, he feels the unseasonably warm weather played a role in the wave of violence this past weekend.
“There’s definitely a correlation between the warmer weather and more calls to the police,” he said. “The more people are out and about – and the good weather certainly brings people out — the more calls we’ll get.”