They called a news conference to reassure the citizens of the city that the October Spree Killer who shot three people this time last year, was not shooting people at random. The shootings, said the police, might be (hint, hint, are extremely likely to be) connected to drug dealing in the North End.
So take it easy, folks, went the official message. You don't need to worry that you or your kids (one of the shooter's victims was only 13) are going to be shot down in cold blood without warning.
That might sound comforting to Winnipeg city detectives who don't actually live in Winnipeg, or to mainstream media reporters from the suburbs.
But people who actually walk the streets where the shootings took place can see right through the police bafflegab.
First, a brief recap of the shootings:
* Thomas Beardy was killed outside a home on Dufferin Avenue. In a charitable act, he was delivering hamburger to a friend with children to feed.
* Ian MacDonald was killed in his home on Boyd Avenue. He was shot down when he answered a knock at the door.
* A 13-year-old girl was nearly killed when shot in the stomach while walking with friends through the housing development on Stella Walk. CTV reporter Caroline Barghout revealed Friday that neighbours say the family living in the suite that the girl was passing had gang connections.
The houses on Dufferin and Boyd were tied "to the drug subculture in the North End" said a police spokesman. The homes were "specifically targeted", he said, adding that the people who were killed may not have been the intended targets.
How generous of him to make that distinction.
Except that, in other words, it means that the men were shot at random, just like the teenage girl. Well, so much, for reassurance.
But it gets worse. The shooter was a obviously a psychopath, without conscience or fear.
After pumping a few shots into a crowd of teenagers, he calmly hopped on his getaway vehicle, a bike, and rode away. Then, with the shriek of police and ambulance sirens still in the air and the streets crawling with police only a few blocks away, he ambushed Thomas Beardy on the steps of a house on Dufferin.
As frenzied police scoured the streets of the North End looking to stop any aboriginal youth of the suspect's age (late teen to mid-20's), the killer waited 35 minutes then walked up to a house in a nice neighbourhood on Boyd Avenue, knocked, and shot whoever answered.
He wasn't scared of being arrested or stopped. He was focused on killing.
And he's still out there.
Now the police say the houses had drug connections of some sort. We have to guess that detectives didn't find any drugs in the homes where the men were killed or they would have told us. No crack in Thomas Beardy's pockets. No flourishing crop of pot plants in Ian MacDonald's basement. (Although we had heard rumours about MacDonald and referenced them five months ago---
So what are they saying, actually? That the killer had a list of drug houses to hit? That he was intending to shoot as many people as he could in one night in as many drug houses as he could reach before getting scooped? That he had been ripped off and was blowing off steam by blowing away people who crossed his path?
We note the police made no mention of surveillance video from a community centre across the street from 261 Stella Walk where the 13-year-old girl was shot. We guess that means there either was no video or it failed to catch the killer.
The police cleared up one point from the tangle of misinformation surrounding the case.
There had been a suggestion that the killer picked up a female accomplice prior to the shooting on Boyd. Police now say they are looking for an aboriginal man and woman who were in the vicinity of the shooting but as witnesses, not suspects.
They even gave a description of the clothes the pair wore. Wow. Maybe somebody will remember who wore what ONE YEAR AGO and call police with their names.
Why can't police figure out that if you want the public's help in finding someone you need to provide a description within hours or a day at most. You see that's when people are reading about the crime and following the news on TV and they might actually recognize who you're talking about. Asking for help ONE YEAR LATER is about as useful as calling police about a drug house on Dufferin Avenue.
Far from reassuring, the police news conference simply reminded people there is a mad dog killer on the loose in Winnipeg and the police are nowhere near making an arrest.