The homicide count is rising quickly in Winnipeg this spring -- and those on the front lines say they're bracing for even more violence.
Justice sources say tensions between organized-crime factions are likely behind the city's latest shooting death, just as they've been in several other recent incidents.
Rustom Vito Paclipan, 23, was shot and killed outside a Main Street nightclub early Sunday morning. Two other men, aged 18 and 24, were also struck by gunfire but survived.
No arrests have been made.
Paclipan is the ninth homicide of 2014, but the sixth since April 1. Several of the recent cases have involved people with suspected gang ties, although there is no evidence they are connected to each other.
The number of dead could be higher if not for quick medical intervention, as there have been several close calls in which the victims were lucky to survive.
Just last month, a stabbing victim with ties to a street gang issued an ominous warning to paramedics as they loaded him on the stretcher, a source said Monday.
"Stock up on these ambulances. There are a lot of (expletive) who are gonna die this summer," the wounded man said prior to being taken to hospital for treatment.
A veteran city police officer said Monday there is plenty of instability within local street gangs these days.
"There is a very competitive illicit-drug market in Winnipeg with many different players and groups vying to increase their share," he said. "Recent disruption through police actions have created supply vacuums and opportunities for expansion and opposing groups are posturing for increased business. Posturing equals stealing customers equals violence."
Police have successfully targeted some of the more organized groups through intensive, undercover investigations -- most recently the arrest of 14 associates earlier this year as part of Project Sideshow.
The nearly two-year probe is the most elaborate ever taken on by Winnipeg police.
"Not to mention you don't really have the Hells Angels around anymore to keep the peace," another justice source said Monday, referencing three major sting operations targeting the outlaw bikers in Manitoba in recent years.
That, sources say, has created the kind of street-level competition among some of the more disorganized gangs that often leads to violence.
"The bottom line is consistently greed," the veteran officer said Monday.
Perhaps most alarming these days is the brazen nature of some of these gang-related attacks.
Geoffrey Reid, 27, was gunned down on a Saturday afternoon last month while at a home in the 400 block of Pacific Avenue.
Police have since charged a 21-year-old man with second-degree murder.
Two days later, a 17-year-old was shot and critically wounded inside a home just after 2 p.m.
Two men have been charged with attempted murder.
In late April, a 17-year-old male was stabbed to death on a Saturday evening near the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge. No arrests have been made.
And last week, the Free Press revealed a pair of drive-by shootings targeting a West Kildonan home were triggered by a Facebook spat between rival gang members. There were no injuries in the two incidents, which happened within a 24-hour period.
The Free Press requested an interview Monday with senior Winnipeg police officers about the recent homicides, including whether there are plans in place to deal with possible fallout and future gang violence.
The following reply was sent by email: "We have consulted with senior management and we are unable to accommodate your request at this time. The strategic plan report card for 2013 will be made available shortly and (it) addresses the implementation of a violent-crime reduction strategy in 2012-2014 and the goals that have been achieved to date."
In the latest slaying, police say Paclipan was shot around 2 a.m. outside Opera Ultralounge at the corner of Main Street and Bannatyne Avenue.
Investigators have determined a group of men had been involved in a confrontation on the street when one pulled out a gun.
Paclipan is a graduate of Sisler High School who was studying aircraft maintenance engineering at Red River College.
Several friends of Paclipan turned to social media Monday to pay tribute to him, with some declaring "justice will be served." Court records show no prior history in Manitoba with Paclipan, who was originally from the Philippines.
Sources said Monday police are pursuing leads tied to gang conflicts in the city. Police are also reviewing footage from surveillance cameras.