London Police have had a busy couple of months in the downtown area popular with students.
The flurry of violent crime began April 5 at the London Music Hall located at Richmond and Dundas streets, where three men were shot at a Young Jeezy concert. That was the second consecutive Young Jeezy concert cut short by gunfire—another man was shot in the crowd at his show in Toronto the night before. The investigation is ongoing, and no charges have yet been laid.
The same night, 31-year-old Michael Leonard was arrested for an alleged stabbing spree that began at Colborne and Horton streets, not far from the student bar scene, and sent two men to hospital.
26-year-old Chad Hallett was accused of assaulting two men at Richmond and Carling streets on April 14, killing one.
On May 4, police allege a group of seven people ranging in age from 14 to 29 assaulted and robbed a 27-year-old man near Oxford and Talbot streets. The gang was accused of following the man down a nearby bike path and assaulting him in a “dimly lit” area. Josh Kana, 23, Robert Aubry, 29, Terrence Parsons, 19, and four youths who cannot be named because of their ages—a 14-year-old female, a 16-year-old female, a 16-year-old male and a 17-year-old male—have been charged with robbery in the unusual incident.
“Do police know why people of such age groups are acting together? No, short answer,” Dennis Rivest, media relations officer for the London Police Service, said.
Though it may appear violent crime is on the rise near Richmond Row, Rivest cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“It’s a matter of what’s hot in the news,” he said. “There are reports all over the city. On average, we answer—in that area—about 250 calls a day. Certainly not all calls are going to make a media release.”
Rivest explained police often sent out more media releases regarding crime downtown because those crimes are of greater interest to more people than crime in, say, residential areas. “It doesn’t mean that it’s violent or more violent than any other part of the city—it’s just that we’re laying charges there and that’s why you’re seeing that.”
Despite this, Rivest explained it’s always important for students to be safe downtown. The best way to do that, he said, is to never be alone.
“So long as you’re in a group you’re less likely to be bothered than if you’re by yourself,” he said, noting at least one person in your group should be sober. “If two of you are walking downtown drunk you might as well be by yourself. You’re looking for trouble.”
“Be responsible, be alert, have a phone, let somebody know where you’re going to be and when you expect on returning,” he concluded.