Two people shot on Langside Street last week in a case of mistaken identity were trying to get away from assailants who accused them of being gang members, police said Tuesday.
Nigel Dixon, 20, died of his injuries, while the woman who was accompanying him remains in stable condition in hospital after they were shot in the 500 block of Langside about 4 p.m. on April 2.
"He was a bright young boy, that's what I remember about him," said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper, a relative of the young man with roots in Garden Hill First Nation.
"He never got involved in any gangs. I never got all the facts (about his life) but I think he was going to school somewhere," Harper said. "We haven't seen him for about 10 years... He never cut his hair up to a certain age and always had a really long pony tail. He turned out to be a really good boy."
Dixon's body was returned to Garden Hill where his funeral was held Monday.
"It (the shooting) was a surprise to all of us."
Harper said he will try to meet with officials with the City of Winnipeg in the coming weeks to offer support to aboriginal youth who come to Winnipeg for education or medical reasons.
"So many of our youth are dying in the streets of Winnipeg. It's a struggle for our youth, there's a lot of hardship," he said.
"There's a lack of relationship between the First Nations and the City of Winnipeg. Something has to be done. We can't continue to sit back and read or listen to all the news releases about another young man is shot or another person goes missing. Something has to be done."
Police said Dixon and the woman were approached by a group and, during a brief discussion, the two victims denied any gang involvement. They tried to flee the area but were followed by the attackers and shot.
Const. Jason Michalyshen said police believe this was a case of mistaken identity, as the victims are not affiliated with any gangs.
"A young man has lost his life. It is our goal to figure out exactly what took place and identify the individuals involved and hold them accountable," Michalyshen said Tuesday.
"When we have incidents like this occur, whether they occur during the day or they occur at night, it is baffling to us that any member of the public, any human being, would react in this fashion.
"We're talking about a violent incident occurring in the middle of the day in broad daylight. Absolutely, it's pretty brazen," he said.
Michalyshen said police have not determined conclusively the attackers were gang members, and he declined to say how many suspects police are seeking.
"We're at a point in the investigation where we're making every effort to identify them (the suspects). We're reaching out to the public," Michalyshen said.