Brantford police investigating response to call ahead of double homicide

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Brantford Police Service has released a video of a suspect who brazenly shot and killed a couple in their south end home early Thursday, an incident that potentially could have been avoided based on comments from the chief of police.

During a press conference held Friday, Chief of police Geoff Nelson said the police service failed to respond to an earlier call at the Park Road South residence where the victims, married couple Larry Reynolds, 64, and Lynn VanEvery, 62, were found around 8 a.m. with gunshot wounds.

Nelson said that, as part of the early stages of the investigation, a vehicle believed to be connected with the shooting was found on Rowanwood Avenue later in the day and was seen near the scene of the crime.

“Through this initial work, I was informed that we received a call to our communication centre on the morning of July 18, citing a suspicious vehicle in the area where the homicides occurred,” Nelson said at the press conference. “This call was received 51 minutes before the incident. It is my understanding a police vehicle was ultimately not dispatched. This is not generally the practice of the Brantford Police Service. As such, I’ve directed that an internal investigation be undertaken to determine the circumstances surrounding this particular matter. I want to be clear that such calls to our dispatch service from local residents are critically important for our work as police officers. We depend on them to obtain critical information to support our policing activities and we want to thank the individual who took the time to come forward with this information.”

Nelson also said that there were others in the residence at the time of the shooting who were unharmed, but declined to disclose the number of people or their identities.

“First, I want to convey my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victims, ” he said. “This was a horrific act of violence and I’m thankful for the efforts of Victim Services of Brant, who have been providing support to the family.”

Major crime unit detectives and officers identified two suspect vehicles as being in the area at the time of the incident: a black four-door Chrysler 300 with shiny chrome trim around the doors, “10-spoke” shiny chrome rims, “blacked out” windows and black door handles.

Nelson said investigators believe the Chrysler was the vehicle recovered on Rowanwood Avenue.

The other vehicle has been described as dark grey or black and of unknown make and model.

Nelson said it is still unknown how many people were involved in this incident but offered that one male suspect was wearing all black with a balaclava covering his face.

“This incident is not believed to be a random act of violence,” Nelson said. “The suspects appeared to have intentionally targeted this residence and the motive behind the shootings remains a focus of the investigation. We remain focused on using every resource at our disposal to complete a thorough and exhaustive investigation into these homicides. I want to thank the hard-working men and women of the Brantford Police Service for their incredible effort and determination in this regard … Finally, I want to assure you that those responsible are going to be held accountable for their actions. Given that this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide additional specific details at this time, but we are committed to keeping the public informed when we have more information.”

Nelson offered comment on the recent gun violence in Brantford.

“2019 in Brantford has been unprecedented as is relates to gun violence,” he said. “To date, there has been 12 shootings in Brantford, with four fatalities. I believe that you have already reported that the rate of shootings in Brantford this year is twice that of Toronto – this is true. Generally speaking, these 12 shooting incidents were not random criminal acts; the persons involved are believed to be entrenched within criminal and high-risk lifestyles and, in most cases, we believe they were known to each other. Regardless, these incidents and the increased presence of guns in our city pose a significant risk to community safety. It’s of great concern that a number of these incidents could have resulted in innocent bystanders being harmed. As you are already aware, the Brantford Police Service introduced a gun violence reduction strategy earlier this year, a part of which was the creation of a new task force to specifically focus on gun-related crime.”

The task force, which was formed in late April, has undertaken more than 20 arrests, the execution of 15 search warrants and the recovery of a number of illicit firearms, drugs and money.
“In fact, approximately 12-hours before yesterday’s homicides, our officers executed a search warrant on a residence, arresting four people and recovering another firearm and ammunition,” Nelson said. “The prevailing question is ‘What else can be done?’ Notwithstanding, what we are experiencing locally, gun violence is not just a Brantford issue, or a Toronto or Ottawa issue. I reference those communities because they have received direct funding from the province to address gun violence in their communities. Gun violence is an Ontario issue. Those responsible for this violence are transient; they reside in your communities and mine, they commit crimes in multiple jurisdictions. Addressing this issue will require the coordination and deployment of a multi-jurisdictional intervention strategy, and this will require greater support from the provincial government. Specifically, we have asked for financial support from the province, through the community safety and policing grant, so we can fully implement our gun violence reduction strategy, which would include our working in partnership with other jurisdictions to identify individual.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Brantford Police Service at 519-756-7050. This incident is not believed to be a random act of violence. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous are asked to contact Brant- Brantford Crime Stoppers at 519-750-8477 or 1-800-222-8477. Alternatively, a web tip may be submitted at: https://www.tipsubmit.com/WebTips.aspx?AgencyID=251

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