Kamloops homicides down by half from last year

'For a city this size that number is fairly reasonable'

Sylvie Paillard / Kamloops Daily News
January 2, 2014 01:00 AM

A police investigator works at the Overlanders Bridge in this file photo.

In keeping with a nationwide downward trend, Kamloops saw half the number of homicides in 2013 compared with 2012.

This year Kamloops police investigated three instances of homicide - one deemed manslaughter, one categorized as operation of a motor vehicle causing death and one that is still under investigation.

"For a city this size that number is fairly reasonable," said Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned.

The Kamloops RCMP tally does not include the Anglemont murder-suicide of 45-year-old Tracy Nicol and 15-year-old Christian Robert Tallick.

The manslaughter stems from a house fire on St. Paul Street last May that took the life of 44-year-old Cheryl Williams. A Kamloops man, 32-year-old David Peter Gordon, makes his next court appearance on charges of manslaughter and arson on Jan. 2.

The homicide still under investigation involves the death of 32-year-old Michael Irving Young, who was found dead underneath the Overlanders Bridge in July.

Kamloops RCMP did not provide details on the vehicular homicide since it was investigated by the rural detachment.

This year's rate is also an improvement on 2009 and 2010, which saw four criminal deaths each. However it's up slightly from the 2011 total of two homicides.

Learned said there's no one controllable factor that contributes to rates going up or down.

"You can't really hang it on one variable or another. It's so nebulous," he said. "A lot of these crimes of violence are frequently spontaneous. It's sort of a momentary fit of rage."

But Learned does feel comfortable saying that the lack of organized crime in town helps.

"You can never let up," he said of fighting gang activity. "That's one of the things that we as a detachment have been pretty focused on."

Statistics Canada just released figures for 2012 showing that the country experienced its lowest homicide rate since 1966.

Police recorded 543 homicides in Canada in 2012, down 55 from the previous year.

The agency says the 2012 homicide rate was 1.56 victims for every 100,000 population, down 10 per cent from 2011 and the lowest in four decades.

It says most of the drop in homicides was accounted for by three provinces.

Alberta had 24 fewer killings, British Columbia had 16 fewer and Saskatchewan dropped by nine.

Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Ontario were the only jurisdictions with increased homicides and they were only three, two and one higher, respectively.

In 2012, the homicide rate was highest in Nunavut at 14.84 for every 100,000 in the population, while among the provinces, Manitoba continued to record the highest homicide rate, at 4.10 for every 100,000.

Despite the overall decrease in homicides in 2012, fatal shootings increased to 172 from 158 in 2011.

Although the number of shootings increased in 2012, the rate of firearm-related homicides remained among the lowest in almost 50 years.

About 65 per cent of firearm homicides involved handguns.

Shootings accounted for a third of all killings while 31 per cent involved stabbing.

Gang-related homicides were unchanged in 2012 from previous two years, with 95 deaths.

The rate of gang killings remained stable for the third year in a row at 0.27 victims for every 100,000 population. Prior to this, gang-related homicides had generally been increasing since the early 1990s, until peaking in 2008.

The data say most homicide victims knew their killer. Among solved homicides in 2012, 84 per cent of homicide victims were killed by an acquaintance or a family member.

The number of homicides committed by strangers decreased slightly in 2012, resulting in the lowest rate of stranger homicide in more than 40 years.

Police reported 82 intimate partner homicides in 2012, with 83 per cent involving a female victim. The rate of intimate partner homicide in 2012 was consistent with rates recorded over the previous five years.

There were fewer homicides committed by youths in 2012 than the previous year, with the youth homicide rate dropping to 1.42 for each 100,000 population, the lowest rate in over a decade.

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