By CLINT BUEHLER
HOBBEMA, AB – Keeping up-to-date on the Hobbema situation for a monthly publication means rewrites right up to deadline to include the latest developments.
RCMP say gangs were likely involved in the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy just a few days after a firearm amnesty was announced, but community leaders say this latest shooting won’t derail efforts to stop gang violence.
Then, a week later, another male in his late teens or early twenties was found dead under suspicious circumstances. An autopsy has been ordered, with results expected before the deadline for the August issue, probably requiring another rewrite.
Now, as we go to press, another fatal shooting—this time 20-year-old Delena Dixon, mother of an 18-month-old daughter, shot in the face when a series of gunshots riddled her home.
According to 13-year-old Alyssa Soosay, who was partying with seven friends on the second floor of the home, she looked out the window to see nearly a dozen men watching the girls in the dark. She said she had seen the men before, and shouted to her friends to get down. Just as they fell to the floor, the bullets started flying, seven of them hitting the house.
When they realized Dixon had been shot, they called 911and she was airlifted to Edmonton where she was pronounced dead.
Ironically, Dixon’s mother, Verna Dee, said she had tried to convince her youngest daughter to join her at a Bible meeting in Red Deer, but Dixon refused, saying she would be okay.
Dee’s husband, Darren Appleguard admitted having gang ties in the past, and speculated he might return to his old life to avenge Dixon’s death.
Efforts to stop gang violence include a wide-ranging number of new initiatives:
• Additional police officers to arrest gang members with outstanding warrants;
• More than 20 derelict homes destroyed, graffiti painted over and truckloads of garbage removed;
• A first home and garden contest, sponsored by the Samson band’s economic development council, with 47 entries and a top prize of $2,000;
• Band council efforts to help more members get jobs off-reserve in the trucking industry and with retail outlets in nearby Wetaskiwin;
• Beginning this fall, the band council will require all members to start paying their own gas and electricity for their homes, most of which are owned by the band. The move is intended to make members accountable for their own homes.
Community leader Roy Louis says he won’t lose faith, although some band councilors are upset about the latest shooting. He says making improvements in the community will take time.