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Man found dead in Balmoral Street rooming house had been assaulted

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A man found dead in a suite of a rooming house on Balmoral Street on Tuesday had been assaulted, police said today.

Police were on scene throughout the night at the three-storey rooming house in the 600 block of Balmoral Street.

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service identification unit have been going in and out of the house, located on the west side of Balmoral between Notre Dame and Cumberland avenues.

A police source confirmed the identity of the victim as Ron McKinnon. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death.

The rooming house is owned by Robert Shwaluk, of Shoal Lake, and his son, Jeffrey Shwaluk, who lives in Winnipeg.

Robert Shwaluk said this afternoon that he was unaware one his tenants had been beaten to death.

Shwaluk said he and his son bought the rooming house two years ago, adding they knew it had an unsavoury reputation at the time.

Shwaluk said his son has made efforts to clean up the home and make it safer for tenants.

"He’s been working as a security guard there to try and watch to see who is coming in," Shwaluk said. "My son has been working quite diligently to clear that up.

"He’s been trying to make his presence there to observe the tenants and non-tenants that are coming in and out to try and make it a little bit safer place for the tenants that are there."

Shwaluk said his son imposed rules on the tenants to make it safer and curtail the violence that dogged it in the past, including making it "quiet time" after 11 p.m.

Shwaluk said he did not know the victim or any of the other tenants.

Fred Redekop, owner of Fleet Autobody, said the rooming house has been a scourge in the neighbourhood for years.

"Welcome to Murder Mansion. It’s extremely, extremely bad," said Redekop, whose business has been a neighbour to the rooming house since 1987. "I’ve had knives pulled on me in the mornings when I’m opening up."

Redekop said the rooming house is known as a violent crack house where at least two murders have taken place in recent times.

"Families with kids don’t live there," Redekop said.

Redekop said there are as many as 18 suites in the large building. He believes it is structurally unsound and city officials told him that it doesn’t meet building or health codes.

A former owner had planned to convert the building into six apartments for refugees but that plan fell through.

"Everyone who lives there is on social assistance, so it’s a money-machine for the owner."

Over the years, Redekop said the city tried to demolish the building and the Justice Department attempted to shut it down because of the drug dealing.

Sex trade workers had used the building in the past, however, Redekop added that a new owner bought the building in the past year and the criminal activity and acts of violence seemed to have quieted down in the past few months

Police were called to the house around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Several people were taken away in the backs of police cruisers, including one man in handcuffs.

Several people at the rooming house are being questioned police said.

The police forensics team arrived shortly after 6 p.m.

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Updated on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 11:01 PM CST: updates

February 27, 2013 at 8:27 AM: Updated

10:24 AM: Winnipeg police say the man has died.

11:49 AM: Clarifies location of house.

2:27 PM: updates with victim's name, comments from building's owner

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