THUNDER BAY — A record number of homicides in the city of Thunder Bay reported last year and two homicides already in 2023 is requiring an immense amount of police resources, but a Thunder Bay Police Service investigator says it can manage the case load.
“We don’t have a breaking point. We can’t have a breaking point,” said Det. Sgt. Jason Rybak with the Thunder Bay Police Service. “We are the end for everything. We have dedicated people in this organization who just are not going to break.”
The latest homicide in the city occurred on Saturday, Jan. 28 in the McKenzie Street area. Officers responded to reports of an altercation at approximately 4 p.m. and located an injured male on the side of the street.
The male, later identified as 33-year-old Cody Young, was transported to hospital where he died as a result of his injuries.
The investigation revealed an altercation had taken place at a residence on Prince Arthur Boulevard. With the help of witnesses, 24-year-old Matthew James Scavarelli was identified as a suspect and located inside the residence where he was arrested.
“We had tremendous help from the community,” Rybak said. “There were witnesses so we knew exactly where he was and our emergency task unit attended the residence and he was arrested without incident.”
Scavarelli was charged with second-degree murder. He has since made his first court appearance and was remanded into custody.
According to Rybak, Young’s injuries were consistent with a stabbing and it does not appear this incident was related to the illicit drug trade.
“This was two individuals known to each other,” he said. “There was an interaction between them at a residence. For all intents and purposes, a fight ensued and spilled out into the street and resulted in Mr. Young’s ultimate death.”
This is the second homicide in 2023, the first occurring on Jan. 22 in the 700 block of John Street where 23-year-old Dallas Bannon of Thunder Bay was found injured and later died in hospital.
A 17-year-old Hamilton male was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Investigators indicated that Bannon’s death was also not related to the illicit drug trade.
“Every homicide or death is problematic for us,” Rybak said. “Regardless of the motive at the end of the day, it is still a homicide. It takes a tremendous amount of resources. The public doesn’t see the officers working around the clock, the little sleep.”
The early stages of homicide investigations are often the most resource intensive, as officers work to contain the scenes, collect evidence, pursue leads, all in an effort of identifying and arresting the individual or individuals responsible.
But the number of homicides in the city, including the record-setting 15 in 2022, is a growing concern for investigators because of the impact on public safety and the amount of resources required.
“Regardless of it being a drug or GTA related homicide, it is concerning the sheer number,” Rybak said. “We have to do something as a community to solve this problem because it is very taxing.”
Rybak added that all Thunder Bay police officers are dedicated to solving violent crimes in the city and prosecuting those responsible.
And while the police service does have strong partnerships with other agencies, including the Ontario Provincial Police, Rybak said violent crime within the city will be handled internally by the Thunder Bay Police Service.
There is the option that some investigations could be handed off to the OPP, but Rybak does not believe that is necessary.
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but at this point, we are able to manage on our own,” he said.