Winnipeg police are crediting legwork and assistance from colleagues on the West Coast as major factors leading to a long-sought suspect's arrest in the killing of a young man gunned down in a case of mistaken gang identity.
Now those who loved Nigel Dixon are wondering how the justice system might react should there be a conviction.
"I'm glad (about the arrest), but just kind of wondering what's going to happen now," Bev Neilson said Monday. "Is he going to go to jail for long enough?"
The suspect, now 18, was arrested in Vancouver last week on a Canada-wide warrant and returned to Winnipeg to answer to a second-degree murder charge in the April 2, 2013 daylight fatal shooting of Dixon, 20.
The suspect cannot be identified because he's charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He remains in custody at the Manitoba Youth Centre.
Dixon and a female friend were walking on Langside Street around 4 p.m. when they were confronted by a group and challenged about their gang affiliation. Neither Dixon nor his friend had any, police said.
When he and the woman turned to walk away, they were shot at. She was injured and Dixon was killed. Police said Monday the nature of their wounds is telling.
"Injuries to the victims support the fact that they were attempting to flee from the suspect group when they were shot," Det. Sgt. Natalie Aitken said.
Since last May, investigators twice obtained rarely used court orders permitting them to temporarily release the name and photo of the suspect in hopes getting tips about where he'd gone.
The working theory was he'd fled Winnipeg for another jurisdiction. He has relatives in Langley, B.C.
Following the second release of his identity in January, Aitken said information came from the public leading investigators to ask Vancouver police to arrest him on a Canada-wide warrant for Dixon's murder and the attempted murder of his friend.
It's widely expected Manitoba prosecutors will seek an adult sentence against the accused if he's convicted of the murder charge. This would expose him to a possible life term in prison, although with greatly reduced parole provisions that could see him seek to regain his freedom after serving five to seven years. He is presumed innocent of the allegations.
Neilson, who became a surrogate mom to Dixon after he and her son became friends in school, said she'll be following the case in the courts.
Public memorials to remember Dixon and support his family, such as a potential memorial walk, candlelight vigil and feast slated for April, are being planned, Neilson said.