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City murder rate will rise in 2012
The Tournament Capital was in line with national homicide trends last year, according to statistics released recently by Statistics Canada, but the numbers for 2012 will likely tell a different story.
There were 598 reported homicides in Canada in 2011, up from 554 the previous year.
That marked the first increase in national murder numbers in three years.
In Kamloops, two homicides were reported in 2011 — the beating death of Archie Lepretre in a downtown schoolyard and the murder of Phil Steel in his Westmount home.
Police said at the time that Lepretre’s murder was gang-related, but no arrests have been made.
In Steel’s case, his son was charged with second-degree murder and ultimately found not criminally responsible by way of a mental disorder.
Canada’s murder rate in 2011 was 1.73 — meaning that’s how many people were killed for every 100,000. In Kamloops, the murder rate was 2.33, based on a population of 85,678.
In 2012, Kamloops has recorded four homicides, not including the disappearance in April of Cassandra Wilson, who police believe met with foul play.
Barring any further murders, that means Kamloops’ murder rate this year will be 4.67.
If Mounties’ suspicion about Wilson’s disappearance is confirmed, the rate will jump to 5.84.
Compared to 2011 numbers, that would give Kamloops a higher murder rate than last year’s murder capital, Winnipeg, which saw 5.08 people killed per 100,000.
But, according to Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned, there’s no cause for alarm.
“In a smaller location, where the numbers are smaller, one or two incidents can reflect numerically as being more significant than they really are,” he said.
“The numbers are so small that to start using percents or a mathematical identifier to contextualize the numbers is woefully misleading.”
And, Learned said, all the homicides in Kamloops this year — Wilson’s case not included — were believed to have been committed by someone close to the victim.
In March, a North Shore man is alleged to have killed his father; in July, a fight between friends at a downtown house party ended in a death; in October, a man is alleged to have killed his common-law wife; and, last week, police believe someone who knew C.J. Fowler killed her before leaving the 16-year-old’s body in Guerin Creek.
“A lot of the murders, as most of them are, are committed by people who know their victim,” Learned said.
“When the homicides are ultimately solved, statistically speaking, a profound number of victims knew their attackers.”
According to Statistics Canada, 48 per cent of solved homicides in 2011 were committed by an acquaintance or friend of the victim and 33 per cent by a family member.
Strangers, according to statistics, committed 15 per cent of murders in Canada last year.
Kelowna recorded two murders in 2011, for a rate of 1.10. In Abbotsford, there was just one reported homicide last year, for a rate of 0.56.
Provincially, there were 87 murders recorded in B.C. in 2011, four more than the previous year, but down significantly from 2008 and 2009, when tallies approached 120 per year.
DEATH BY GENDER
Both of the murder victims in 2011 in Kamloops were men, and men are believed to have been responsible for both slayings as well.
This year, two of the four people killed in Kamloops were men, as were all three of those so far charged in local homicides.
That is not abnormal, considering national trends. According to Statistics Canada, seven in 10
homicide victims and nine in 10 accused killers nationally last year were male.