Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Man held in stabbing death

'Everyone's in shock' at sports bar after popular patron knifed on street

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Tony Pereira, manager of the Sporting Club of Portugal, talks about Helder Serpa, 57, who police said suffered multiple stab wounds while walking home from the sports bar early Saturday morning.


Tony Pereira, manager of the Sporting Club of Portugal, talks about Helder Serpa, 57, who police said suffered multiple stab wounds while walking home from the sports bar early Saturday morning. Photo Store

A male suspect has been arrested in the stabbing death of 57-year-old Helder Serpa who had earlier watched football on TV at a Notre Dame Avenue sports bar early Saturday.

Serpa had joined his buddies at the Sporting Club of Portugal near his home to watch the Blue Bombers play Montreal on Friday night.

Hours later, Serpa was stabbed by a stranger multiple times, police said. He was left to bleed to death alone on the street where he lives.

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

"Everyone's in shock," said Tony Pereira, manager and vice-president of the Sporting Club of Portugal.

"He was very friendly -- a guy who would give you the shirt off his back," said Pereira.

Const. Jason Michalyshen said Sunday police responded around 1:40 a.m. Saturday after passersby had found an unconscious injured man.

"The investigation has now revealed that the deceased identified as Helder Serpa, 57 years old, of Winnipeg, was walking to his residence when he was confronted by an unknown male. An altercation took place at which time the victim was stabbed multiple times in the upper body," Michalyshen said. "Officers located the male suspect in the same area, at which time he was taken into custody."

'I thought he was someone passed out drunk. I was going to walk away, but got this feeling I should go back'

Pereira said Serpa lived a block south of the sports club and a few blocks northeast of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 1.

Pereira said Serpa left the club just before the game ended to go to the Royal Canadian Legion a couple of blocks away on Sargent Avenue. Police said Sunday Serpa was stabbed on Spence Street in the area of Cumberland Avenue half a block from his house.

The construction worker was a bachelor and had no children, said Pereira. Serpa had a mother and two brothers in Manitoba, he said. Serpa's mother and stepfather declined to comment Sunday.

"He was well-known and well-loved," said Pereira at the sports club where Serpa showed up regularly for coffee in the morning and on weekends to watch sports. "He was one of my best customers," he said.

"He liked his sports," said club regular, Kim Trethart, "and he knew a lot. He read the papers. He was very intelligent," he said.

Serpa watched CFL games and was a Bombers fan but soccer was his favourite, said Pereira. They called him "Portista" because he was such a huge fan of the Portuguese soccer club.

At the sports bar on Notre Dame, friends of Serpa are mourning him and raising money for flowers for his funeral.

"We started a fund for him," Pereira said, pulling out a scribbler with dozens of names and hundreds of dollars pledged just hours after police identified him as the victim.

At about 1:40 a.m. Saturday, Serpa was found unconscious and face down on the ground by a young woman who lives in the area and was walking down Spence Street.

She almost kept on walking, said Sonja Eaglestick.

"I thought he was someone passed out drunk. I was going to walk away, but got this feeling I should go back," said Eaglestick, who lives in an apartment on Sargent Avenue. "When I got closer to him, I could see blood on his back," said the 21-year-old.

"I pictured myself as him," said the young woman. "That could have been me if I was there a couple of hours earlier."

She called 911 and flagged down a car to help. The driver stopped, then took off, she said. Eaglestick saw some people coming out of a house on Spence and called for help.

"I said 'please come!' -- I was shocked. I wasn't prepared for it." She said David Gaumond rushed over to help. Paramedics on the phone were telling her the victim needed to be on his back, and Gaumond turned him over for Eaglestick, who tried to find the unconscious man's pulse, she said.

"I checked his wrist and couldn't find anything, then checked his neck," she said. The paramedic on the phone told her to put her ear to his mouth to hear if he was breathing. When she didn't, she was instructed to perform CPR.

The young woman recalled some of the CPR training she received through courses at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre a while ago, and the paramedic on the phone walked her through it until police arrived at the scene and took over.

"I just hoped there was a slight chance he will pull through," she said.

Speaking near the scene Saturday morning, Gaumond said he heard a woman screaming for help outside his home, rushed out, and found a man lying face-down on the street.

Acting on telephone instructions from paramedics, said Gaumond, "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. "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," Gaumond said.

Police said Serpa was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

"I tried to help him," Eaglestick said Sunday. "I wanted to let the family know I tried to help their loved one," she said. "I did everything I could."

On Sunday, she went back to where she tried to revive Serpa and placed a bouquet of flowers. Police offered her help from victim services, and she said she'll probably take them up on the offer.

"It's something very tragic I have to go through," said Eaglestick. "After it happened, I kept saying to myself 'I hope they catch his murderer to give everyone closure' and that will give me closure, too."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2014 A3


Updated on Monday, August 25, 2014 at 6:14 AM CDT: Replaces photo

8:57 AM: Corrects incorrect word ("fans" should have been friends")

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