News / Ottawa

Rate of 2016 Ottawa homicides 'concerning' to Major Crime Unit

So far this year, there have been seven homicides in Ottawa – the same number of homicides there were in all of 2015 and 2014.

Forensic officers examine the scene near Claremont Drive where Mohamed Najdi, 28, was killed in a gang-related shooting outside his home. Five men have been charged with first-degree murder.

Joe Lofaro / Metro Order this photo

Forensic officers examine the scene near Claremont Drive where Mohamed Najdi, 28, was killed in a gang-related shooting outside his home. Five men have been charged with first-degree murder.

As investigators try to pinpoint the motive behind the stabbing death of Lonnie Leafloor whose body was found Monday, the Major Crime unit is being stretched thin in dealing with seven homicides so far in the first five months of 2016.

There were seven homicides in all of 2015 and 2014, and the spike in killings in the first half of this year is beginning to worry police.

“The Major Crime detectives, to our analysts, to our support staff are really, really busy with this,” said Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt, who heads the homicide unit.

“Yes, it’s concerning to me that we have seven by May. The numbers may level out and it may just be an anomaly of the year. I don’t know.”

Police say in the city’s most recent killing, Leafloor, 56, was stabbed to death in an attack that was targeted and not random. His death remains unsolved and police have not identified a suspect.

There doesn’t appear to be any direct link to the string of killings and no single commonality between them, according to Pirt.

Six of the seven victims are under the age of 30 and police can say with certainty that three of this year’s homicides are gang-related.

“Is there a trend, should everyone be alarmed? No. Let’s not be alarmed. We have a great, wonderful, safe city,” said Pirt.

While resources are tight across the entire police force, investigators working on homicides are able to draw on other units for assistance. For example, if a murder is gang-related, they can tap into the Guns and Gangs Unit for their expertise.

Even so, Pirt said he is mindful of the overtime his officers are racking up. Four of the seven murders so far this year remain unsolved.

“I’m always cognizant of and trying to keep an eye on the overtime, but we can’t just shut off the murder after eight hours and everyone go home for the night. So, yeah, it does draw on the overtime budget,” he said.

A recurring problem for his officers is that some witnesses, especially those involved in crime, are reluctant to come forward with information out of fear of retribution.

But Pirt wants the public to know that they can feel safe in coming to police.

“Let’s all pitch in and solve these things and let’s get the message out there that you just can’t get away with murder in Ottawa because we’re going to catch you,” he said.

“And that’s what I want the community to step up and do. Let’s work together, let’s grab these guys send the message out there. No, let’s not run scared. Let’s step up and do our part.”

Ottawa's seven homicides so far in 2016:

  • Date: Jan. 10, 2016
  • Victim: Mohamed Najdi, 28
  • Victim was killed in a gang-related shooting outside his home on Claremont Drive in Manor Park. Five men have been charged with first-degree murder.
  • Police say this homicide is gang-related. 
  • Date: Jan. 31, 2016
  • Victim: Marwan Arab, 20
  • Victim was shot to death while eating with his cousin at the Shifa Restaurant on Cobden Road in Pinecrest. No arrests have been made.
  • Police say this homicide has yet to be determined if it is gang-related.
  • Date: Feb. 22, 2016
  • Victim: Mohamed Ali Hassan19
  • Victim was stabbed 18 times near Lawson Park in Overbrook, according to police. Michael Leblanc, 26, is facing a charge of second-degree murder.
  • Police say this homicide is not gang-related, but “some players do have gang-affiliations."
  • Date: Feb. 24, 2016
  • Victim: Taylor Morrow-Flint, 20
  • Victim was shot and killed in the 80 block of Ritchie Street in Britannia at 7:30 p.m. Police have not made any arrests, but last month they released composite sketches of two male suspects and are hoping to identify them.
  • Police say this homicide is gang-related. 
  • Date: March 8, 2016
  • Victim: Nooredin Hassan, 20
  • Victim was shot and killed in front of Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School in Gloucester just before 6:30 p.m. – the third homicide on Jasmine Crescent in an 11-month period. Police have not made any arrests in Hassan’s killing.
  • Police say this homicide is gang-related. 
  • Date: March 27, 2016
  • Victim: Christina Voelzing, 24
  • Victim was caught in the crossfire during a shooting at her home on Sonnet Crecent in Bells Corners shortly after 5 a.m. Ottawa police have charged Behnam Yaali, 23, with second-degree murder after he was arrested in Brampton on April 15. 
  • Police say this homicide is not gang-related. 
  • Date: May 2, 2016
  • Victim: Lonnie Leafloor, 56
  • A neighbour found the victim's body in an apartment on Lepage Avenue in Carlington at 3:40 p.m. Police say he was stabbed in a targeted attack. No arrests have been made.
  • Police say this homicide is not gang-related. 

Anyone who has information about these homicides can report it to Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222 extension 5493. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477. 

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