Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Criminal-negligence charge in fatal shooting

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An accidental shooting following a party at a downtown apartment suite on Canada Day has seen a Winnipeg woman's life cut tragically short.

Michele Stobbe, 28, was identified by police Wednesday as the victim of a serious gunshot wound inside a 21st-floor suite at 72 Donald St. just before 3 a.m. Tuesday.

John Elwood Cameron, 35, lived there and was the man who called 911 to alert police and paramedics Stobbe had been shot, police said.

Cameron now faces charges of criminal negligence with a firearm causing death, careless storage and careless use of a handgun and is being held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Stobbe was the sole remaining guest of a party held at Cameron's suite, said police spokesman Const. Eric Hofley said.

The early stages of the police probe showed Cameron was allegedly handling a 9-mm Beretta pistol when Stobbe grabbed at his arm, said police.

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The handgun fired. A bullet struck Stobbe and critically injured her, Hofley said.

Cameron stayed with her in the suite until police arrived and ultimately arrested him.

There's no suggestion the two were arguing before the shooting or that any threats had been made, investigators said.

"For whatever reason, he had that firearm out, was handling it," said Hofley.

The investigation is continuing. Cameron and Stobbe had a history of some kind but weren't considered a couple, police said.

"What the level of that history is from a dating point of view is unclear at this point," said Hofley.

The gun was legally registered to Cameron, said police.

A mandatory minimum of four years in prison applies to the criminal-negligence charge if Cameron is ultimately convicted of it.

Stobbe's family could not be reached for comment. Friends, however, were expressing shock at her sudden death and mourning her through social media.

"This is so sad," said one friend on Facebook. "Michele was a really sweet person."

"This is just tragic," said another. "I am so sorry to hear this."

Neighbours expressed surprise at the police activity in their building, described as a generally quiet place to live.

"It was very random. I've never had any problems in this building at all," Derek Adshade said.

Cameron hails from the Gladstone area and has no history of violence, court records show.

In August 2012, he was fined $2,200 and barred from driving for a year after pleading guilty to impaired driving.

Lawyer Saul Simmonds described Cameron as "a gentle soul" who dealt with the case against him responsibly.

Although Stobbe's death is treated as a homicide by investigators, it won't be factored into the overall tally of city homicides. The Winnipeg Police Service no longer counts cases of criminal negligence causing death on its official homicide totals.

Police justified making the change on the basis crimes of murder and manslaughter show a different intent than criminal negligence.

The offence suggests reckless behaviour was at play, not a wilful intent to cause harm or death.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2014 B1

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