Gang war claims innocent victim on Alta. reserve
Published Monday, August 18, 2008 10:05PM EDT
A 20-year-old Alberta woman was shot and killed over the weekend, the unintended victim of a vicious gang war that has claimed a number of lives at a collection of reserves south of Edmonton.
Delema Dixon, who also goes by the last name Lefthand, was shot in the head Saturday night when her home was riddled by gunfire on the Samson reserve -- one of four First Nations in Hobbema, Alta.
Dixon's mother, Vernadee Applegarth, told CTV News that she believed it was her son -- who is in a gang -- who was the target. It wasn't the first time that their home was shot up in the last few years.
Applegarth is now left to take care of her daughter's 18-month-old child.
"I'm angry so much that I want to get revenge," she said.
Dixon's father, Darren Applejohn, likened living on the reserve to living in a warzone.
"It's just like living in Iraq -- terrorist town -- that's how I see it. Bunch of terrorists here," he said.
Gun complaints are nearly an everyday occurrence in the region -- one of the mostly heavily policed per capita in Canada.
"These types of cowardly acts are hideous, and there are a lot of community members that are fed up with it," RCMP Cpl. Darrel Bruno said.
Dixon's death -- the third murder on the reserves since a gun and weapons amnesty was announced only weeks ago -- sparked leaders to meet for emergency meetings on Monday.
"People are saying, `What can we do to make it right?'" Roy Louis, an adviser with the Samson First Nation told The Canadian Press.
"It is up to us, the Four Nations people. We need to work together to come up with long-term solutions against the gangs, the drugs and the violence. But our community has to take charge."
Leaders announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the murders on the reserves. There have been five murders already this year, in a community of 12,000.
But Applejohn said that people are afraid to come forward to police, saying they are labelled as snitches or shot at themselves.
One of the four First Nations has imposed a youth curfew. The Samson First Nation also approved the destruction of 26 known drug houses.
There are believed to be at least 13 gangs operating in the reserves, fighting for control over the drug trade, which mostly deals in crack cocaine.
With a report from CTV's Janet Dirks and a file from The Canadian Press