Police Respond to Swarming Problem

Increased Presence in Barrhaven to Begin This Week Following Random Attacks

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent

After multiple non-targeted swarmings and jumpings in the Barrhaven area, a group of local parents are joining together to spark change in an attempt to end the violence.

The most recent event took place outside of the Farm Boy on Greenbank Rd on Friday, June 11, and resulted in a 16-year-old male receiving what Police are describing as “serious injuries.”

Someone with knowledge of the incident told the Barrhaven Independent that the teen suffered from a concussion and broken ribs, however others have said it was a concussion and broken nose.

“At approximately 9:50 on Friday June 11th, the Ottawa Police Service received a call concerning a swarming involving several youths that had occurred in the 1600 block of Greenbank Road,” Ottawa Police told the Barrhaven Independent in an emailed statement. “When Frontline officers arrived on scene, all involved parties had dispersed.”

According to police, a bystander stepped in and broke up the fight. Another Good Samaritan, who was not known to the victim, drove the teen home to safety.

“A bystander that witnessed the assault stated that he had intervened by pulling several teenagers off a 16-year-old young man they were assaulting,” said Ottawa Police. “He further informed us that the victim had been transported to his house by another good Samaritan.  The officers went to the victim’s house where his father confirmed he had just been dropped-off.”

Swarming Problem Not New

This is just one of many fights and swarms that have taken place in and around Marketplace within the past year. According to one person the Barrhaven Independent spoke with, a teenager was stabbed outside of the Nepean park and ride a few months ago but did not have life-threatening injuries.

In July 2020, a small group of teens was randomly swarmed on Riocan Avenue near Strandherd Drive. The Barrhaven Independent has spoken with one of the victims’ mothers who wishes not to be named.

She said after her son and a few friends left Starbucks at about 8:45 p.m. on July 9, another teen approached the group and tried to pick a fight. She said the brawler exchanged a few words with her son who mouthed back.  Within minutes, seven or eight other boys came from behind one of the stores and swarmed her son and his friends. Her son received the worst of it.

“They ended up stealing my son’s iPhone; his friend’s iPhone; they took my son’s AirPods and they beat up my son,” she said.

While the injuries were not as serious as in the recent jumping, the boy’s mother said the July 2020 attack left her son with some minor injuries.

“He had some scratches (and) what looked like a black eye,” she said. “He was kicked in the face and had some bruises on his knees because he was kicked to the ground.”

A day after the incident occurred, the boy’s parents canvassed nearby stores for any security footage of the incident, which was then handed over to police. A few days later, Ottawa Police Services released photos of two suspects — both minors — from security camera footage taken from Marketplace Bus Station. Two other young men who were involved had already been identified. The four teens faced charges of robbery with violence in connection to the incident, but that’s as far as it went. The victim’s mother says the Youth Criminal Justice Act is letting those under the age of 18 get off with less than a slap on the wrist.

With these types of incidents continuing to happen in Barrhaven, she continues to fear for her kids’ safety when they are out hanging with friends.

“I have mixed feelings because I’m nervous for my son when he goes out; I’m constantly checking his locations — I track his locations on his phone and I’m constantly texting him,” she said. “But at the same time I don’t want him hiding in his room and not going out. I don’t want these punks to win.”

Community Watch Facebook Group

After the latest incident outside Farm Boy, a group has been started on Facebook called ‘Barrhaven Community Watch’, which has over 75 members already. 

Gina Sutton who started the group said she did so because parents are concerned about what’s going on in the community. With a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son at home, she’s also concerned about their safety.

“I’m just a mom. I work in a school so I am around a lot of children,” said Sutton. “But I don’t know what we can do to change things. The intention of the group is to brainstorm with other parents who are feeling like I am, and to come up with ideas that we can take to city councillors, police, and anybody who will listen to what we have to say.”

The group has already drafted up a list of ideas which includes having a larger police presence in Barrhaven. Ottawa Police say following last week’s incident, they will be increasing their patrol in Barrhaven over the next few days.

Better lighting at nearby Treehouse Mike Skatepark is something the group would also like to see. Darrell Bartraw, who is known for organizing many events around Barrhaven, says he’s been working on this initiative for a while and has found a sponsor who will do it for free. All they need now is for the city to hook up the hydro at the skatepark.

“A local landscaping business that is very involved in the Community has obtained lights to put up but needs the city of Ottawa to put in a power box,” Bartraw told the Barrhaven Independent.

Sutton says with better lighting in areas where teens congregate, it will help act as a deterrent to keep them away, and will also make it easier to spot fights or illegal activity taking place.

“These places tend to be where a lot of the issues are happening,” she said. “We know if there is darkness, there will be 20 teenages causing mischief.”

The Barrhaven Independent has asked Ottawa Police what is causing the increase in swarmings in the community and how many of them are targeted. We also asked if any of these incidents are gang related, and if the individuals involved are from Barrhaven or are coming in from other neighborhoods around the city.

When mayhem was caused at Barrhaven’s Canada Day celebrations in 2019, the group of teenagers involved were from Orleans. In that case a number of people suffered non-serious injuries in what police at the time called “social disorder and fights.” Some teenagers were arrested for attempting to intimidate police officers, and others were arrested for shooting fireworks into the crowd. A number of pieces of equipment were also stolen from the fairgrounds.

Police say they have directed out questions to the appropriate unit for response, but at the time of publication have not heard back. In response to the events which unfolded on the night of June 11, police say the West Criminal Investigation Unit is pursuing the investigation and no further information is available at this time.