A best friend and former teammate of a young Winnipeg man who died Saturday following an alleged assault outside a Transcona house party is remembering him as a selfless person who had a promising future.
"I don't have my buddy anymore," Brook Claeys said Monday. "It's just hard."
Christian O'Neail, 18, died in hospital of upper-body injuries sustained early Saturday outside a home on Nevens Bay.
According to police, a "large group of kids" was gathered at the home and a verbal dispute broke out between the suspect and the victim.
The argument spilled into the street and a punch was thrown, police said.
Police were summoned to the area by neighbours who called to report a disturbance.
Once there, they learned O'Neail was already on his way to hospital in critical condition, Const. Eric Hofley said.
A 17-year-old boy faces a manslaughter charge and is expected to make a first court appearance this afternoon at the Manitoba Youth Centre. He is presumed innocent.
Neither O'Neail nor the suspect, who can't be identified under Canadian youth-justice laws, had any past dealings with police, said Hofley.
Claeys said he's been told by people who attended the party the dispute was sparked by words exchanged over a high school football rivalry.
He said he was told O'Neail was walking away from the dispute to his vehicle when he was allegedly struck in the back of the neck and fell to the ground.
"He was walking away, being the bigger man," said Claeys.
O'Neail, who recently graduated from Kildonan-East Collegiate, was due to begin classes at the University of Manitoba, said Claeys.
Alcohol consumption may have influenced the incident, said Claeys. Police couldn't confirm Sunday if it was a factor.
"I'm never going to drink again," Claeys said.
O'Neail was the type of person to always put others first, he said.
Friends of O'Neail's spoke up en masse to offer condolences.
"You don't know what was taken from us, his family and the world," one said in a lengthy note posted to Twitter Sunday. "The potential and the person he is, will never be duplicated."
Police asked anyone who was at the party and witnessed the altercation but has yet to speak with police to call homicide detectives at 204-986-6508.