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Shooting of abducted baby follows a surge in domestic violence during pandemic

·4 min read

Peterborough County politicians are shocked by the tragic death of a one-year-old baby boy who was fatally shot on Thursday after being abducted by his father from a home in Trent Lakes.

“There’s now a mother out there without a little boy and I would expect grandparents without a grandson … it’s just a tragic series of events,” said Joe Taylor, former warden of Peterborough County and mayor of Otonabee-South Monaghan Township.

The incident began at about 8:48 a.m. Thursday when Peterborough County OPP officers were called to a location northeast of Bobcaygeon in Trent Lakes after a 33-year-old father abducted his son in what police called a domestic dispute involving a firearm.

The baby was found dead of a gunshot wound in his father’s pickup truck after it collided with an OPP cruiser on Pigeon Lake Road, east of Lindsay, which was followed by altercation in which three officers shot at the man.

Emily Poulin, executive director at Victim Services of Peterborough Northumberland (VSPN), said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the need to help high-risk victims of domestic violence.

While there are many tools the agency offers, as well as several service providers that do work in tandem to try and support these high-risk individuals in both Peterborough city and county, Poulin said there also needs to be prevention of domestic violence.

“With COVID, we’re seeing a lot of differences in the way people are arrested and released, because they don’t want to overcrowd the jails, but when you’re talking high-risk offenders, more has to be done on that end,” she said.

“It can’t all be on the victim to try and stay safe. There should be more measures put in place to try and keep offenders from doing this in the first place.”

Lisa Clarke, executive director at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, said in just six months of the pandemic, their crisis services at the centre have doubled those of the #MeToo movement in 2017 and 2018.

“There are alarming rates of sexual and gender-based and internet-partner violence happening in this community, and the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre encourages all families and friends to check in and support and listen without judgment, to those who may be experiencing family violence in the home,” she said.

There are many barriers for people living in rural areas to seek services, Clarke said.

“Everybody knows everybody and so it can feel like reaching out means that family and friends will know what’s happening in the home. Our services are confidential and can be anonymous. We recognize that those are the types of services needed for people in rural areas to reach out and we have many survivors each year reaching out from more rural areas of our region,” she said.

What happened is incomprehensible, Poulin said.

“I mean it’s an absolute tragedy what happened and my heart goes out to the family and friends,” she said.

The loss of a life, but particularly the loss of a young life, is heartbreaking, said Andy Mitchell, deputy warden of Peterborough County.

“It’s a really, really tragic event and my heart is heavy and sorrowful for all of the folks that are being impacted by this,” he said.

Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson said the outcome of Thursday’s incident is extremely unfortunate.

“It’s hard to say when it all comes out, just exactly what happened,” she said.

Taylor said he believes the community is going to do what they can to support the family in this time of need.

“There’s no point in trying to understand it, or rationalize it, or explain it, or make any sense out of it,” he said. “It’s just really, really sad.”

The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre’s 24/7 crisis phone line is 1-866-298-7778. Their new 24/7 crisis text line is 705-710-5234.

VSPN’s toll-free number is 1-888-822-7729 and its website is at victimservicespn.ca/.

Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: mlentz@peterboroughdaily.com

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner