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Police arrest man in Spence Street stabbing and identify the victim

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David Gaumond, a Spence area resident, describes the scene after a stabbing occurred early Saturday morning in 500 block of Spence Street.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

David Gaumond, a Spence area resident, describes the scene after a stabbing occurred early Saturday morning in 500 block of Spence Street. Photo Store

A 35-year-old Winnipeg man has been charged in connection with Saturday’s homicide in the inner city.

Police have identified the deceased as Helder Serpa, 57, also of Winnipeg. Serpa was walking to his home at 1:40 a.m. when he was confronted by a man he didn’t know. An altercation took place and Serpa was stabbed several times in the upper body, police said in a news release.

A passerby called police to the scene near Cumberland Avenue and Spence Street. The unconscious Serpa was taken to hospital and later pronounced dead.

Police said they arrested a suspect in the area.

Matthew James Sellner, 35, has been charged with second-degree murder. He remains in custody.

Those who tried to help the victim of the early-morning homicide were shaken. Speaking near the scene Saturday morning, David Gaumond described hearing a woman screaming for help outside his home in the 500 block of Spence near Cumberland Avenue around 1:40 a.m.

Gaumond said the woman, likely in her 20s, discovered the bloodied man directly in front of Gaumond's house.

Gaumond rushed out and found a man lying face down on the street. The man looked to be Caucasian, in his late 50s to early 60s, wearing a reflective strap that looked like part of a construction worker's uniform, he said.

The man had two to three stab wounds in his back.

"(The woman) was on the phone with the paramedics at the time and they were asking her to flip him -- and he was so full of blood that she didn't really want to touch him," said Gaumond.

Gaumond tried to flip the man over by using his reflective strap.

"... He was not even responsive to that or lifting his mouth up or anything," he said.

"Once I flipped him over, from even the first touch, even through his clothes, I could tell he was already getting cold."

Gaumond said they could not feel his pulse and the man had two to three more stab wounds in his chest. He described the stab wounds as being about two and a half inches thick, which meant the knife used was large in comparison to most blades, he said.

"It was horrific. The stab wounds were even horizontal to try and get between ribs. These people, whoever stabbed him, really knew what they were doing when it comes to blades."

Police said earlier today a man was rushed to hospital with serious injuries but did not survive. There has been no official mention of what signs of foul play were identified on the man.

Gaumond said he tried to trace the trail of blood left by the victim, a man he recognized from seeing in the area two days prior, but didn't know personally.

"Before the police showed up and before they taped it off, I followed some blood spatter, some blood drippage up the street and then across the boulevard," Gaumond said, referring to the boulevard on Cumberland Avenue.

Gaumond didn't hear any commotion on his street before discovering the body in front of his house. He said he feels sickened and sad by what happened.

"I think he was just an unfortunate person that just ran into the wrong people at the wrong time," he said. "It's not every day you get to... see someone dead in front of your house. It's pretty sickening."

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