Only, the 'new' normal includes a cold-blooded murderer roaming free to search for new victims. What's wrong with this picture?

If a cougar wandered into Winnipeg, killed two men in random attacks and mauled a teenaged girl almost to death, the city would be up in arms and demanding action from the authorities. But when similar carnage occurs in an unfavoured part of town, the authorities respond with a shrug and turn their eyes to bailing out a millionaire who wants to buy a football team but can't afford it, poor boy.

Every few days the Winnipeg Free Press has been carrying a small update somewhere in the back pages telling the public that, yes, police are still in the North End in force and, no, nobody has been arrested for the two murders and two or three attempted murders during the spree killer's rampage.

However, we're informed, the police are "motivated" to catch him.

Oh goody.

Since we assume the police are motivated to solve every murder in the city, this news isn't much comfort.

It's no secret that police know much more than they tell the public about every crime. But they apparently have no clue how to communicate with people.

We know virtually nothing more about the killer (or killers) than we knew the day after the multiple shootings within an hour on Stella Walk, Dufferin Avenue and Boyd Avenue.

The police have released a Crimestoppers video to stimulate tips. Where some Crimestoppers include a re-enactment of the crime, this one consisted only of a detective talking to the camera with a vague street scene in the background that changed as he switched his commentary from one shooting to the next.

The only new information to come from the Crimestoppers ad is a clarification of the times of the shootings:
8:25 p.m. shots fired at a group of teenagers near 261 Stella Walk

8:40 p.m. a man shot to death at 495 Dufferin Ave.

9:12 p.m. a man shot to death at 486 Boyd Ave.

The news stories that said the Crimestoppers reward for information on the spree killer had been boosted to $6000 are wrong. The police are treating the shooting spree as three separate incidents and Crimestoppers is offering the usual $2000 per incident for a total of $6,000.

This raises the question of why, in two weeks, the police cannot say if there was one shooter or two? Or three, for that matter.

Haven't we been able to use the science of ballistics to tell if the shots came from one gun? Can't the police even tell us what kind of weapon was used to kill Tom Beardy on Dufferin and Ian MacDonald on Boyd? Is it the same gun or different guns?

And why are the police hinting that the shooter on Boyd may have been accompanied by a woman? Or is that a girl? We can guess that they have a witness who provided that information.

Did the witness see the shooting? Was it the girl who went to the door to lure Ian MacDonald out so the spree killer could shoot him? Did the witness say if the pair were on foot or in a car? We doubt the killer was riding his gal around on the handlebars of his bicycle.

What about the resident of 261 Stella Walk? A witness quoted by the Winnipeg Free Press said the killer pulled out his gun, hid it behind his back, and peeked into the windows of the first house on Stella Walk. When a group of teens walked past (without seeing him), he turned his attention to them. But was his initial intent to kill someone in that first suite?

This, of course, raises the question of whether the Oct. 23 murders were his first.

CBC television carried a story this week about six unsolved murders in the North End since 2008. Two were Beardy and MacDonald, in another police had arrested two suspects and were looking for one more, and one other fit the usual pattern of a gang-related killing---male shot down in the middle of the night. But two of those unsolved murders now take on new significance.

* Joanne Hoeppner was killed just after midnight Jan. 2, 2008. Like Ian MacDonald, she had gone to answer the door at 688 Magnus Ave. when someone fired a gun through the door, killing her instantly. She was eight months pregnant.

At the time the press hinted broadly that the killing had some relation to the drug world. The Crimestoppers reinactment even had a young man with a sawed-off rifle knocking on her door and shouting "I've got the money."

Hoeppner fit the unfortunate profile of a North End murder victim---native, female, poor, unmarried and pregnant, so her death was soon forgotten---except to those who knew her.

A distraught friend posted this comment on the Youtube page of the Crimestoppers ad:


FIRST OF ALL! it wasn't a guy coming for drugs thank you very much. and second of all, it was a guy asking for a man that did not live there. SO THERE! and she was in labour with her baby. just too early in the labor to stay in the hospital. STUPID press. and its not like you guys care at all. you guys think its just another native that got shot no biggie. well we do care.

Seventeen months later, another murder, eerily similar to the random shooting of teenagers on Stella Walk.

* A never-identified gunman stepped through an alley door and opened fire without warning into a wedding reception at a hall at the corner of Main Street and Cathedral Avenue. Cheryl Robert, a guest, was shot in the head and died in hospital. Two or three other guests were hit by bullets sprayed at the crowd.

Police learned that some of the guests were members of the Manitoba Warriors and the shooting slipped off the news pages into some dusty file of gang-related shootings. The case got a lot of news coverage and the police were "motivated" to catch the killer, but never did.

Were the Hoeppner and Robert killings the spree killer's first? Ballistics can tell us if the guns used were the same. Why not let the public in on the secret?

The day after the shootings, CBC reported: "Police have taken the rare step of bringing in a crime analyst to examine the incidents to see if they are linked."

Since detectives are all "crime analysts" we assume the CBC meant a profiler was called in. Did he or she have anything to contribute?

This is real life and not some lame episode of Criminal Minds where they sit back and wait for the killer to strike again so the team can gather more evidence to catch him.

* The Winnipeg Police have a terrible record when it comes to communicating with the public.

Security video caught a robber choking a store clerk unconscious in July, 2009. Television news clearly showed the store's sign that warned customers they were on video, so the existence of he footage was no secret. But the police waited 10 days before releasing the video to the news media, giving the robbers a 10 day headstart in escaping.

This is not a game of cops and robbers. This is deadly serious.There's a killer on the loose.

Talk to us. Tell us what you know.

As Joanne Hoeppner's friend said,"Well, we do care."