Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'It's scary, horrifying'

Fear at block where killing took place

  • Print

Erin Tilling barricades herself inside her downtown apartment every night.

First, the 35-year-old hearing-impaired woman turns the deadbolt. Then she piles suitcases in the small space between the door and a wall. Finally, she carefully wedges in a chair. Tilling hopes the obstacles would be enough to prevent an intruder from forcing his way into her apartment.

Once she has taken these small steps, the slightly built woman takes out her hearing aids and settles herself for the night on a narrow cot in her living area. She keeps her skinny cat Garfield close by. The animal reacts to noises in the hallway. Tilling hopes he would alert her to danger.

"It's scary, horrifying, especially on the weekends," she says. "I'm trying to move. It's not that easy because there's no place to go."

Tilling lives in the Manitoba Housing apartment block at 375 Assiniboine Ave. Hank Lecoy, another resident, was found slain in his 16th-floor apartment Tuesday. Sheldon Tony Genaillie, 50, has been charged with second-degree murder.

But Tilling and others in the block say Lecoy's slaying isn't an isolated incident of violence. A 10th-floor resident, who says she's afraid of gang reprisals if she gives her name, often hears people fighting in the hallways, especially on the weekends.

"I don't open the door. I'm scared. I just stay in my apartment with the door locked."

She's lived in the block for three years and says she knows and trusts her immediate neighbours. In fact, she just helped her sister move into the building. You've got to live somewhere. The building is clean and the elevators work. There are obvious signs of wear, the result of many people moving in and out. The common area is tidy and nicely decorated.

Tilling's $285 rent is paid by the government, as is the rent of the other residents. She has a bachelor apartment with a private bathroom. Her two teenage children stay with her on weekends, although there's no obvious place for them to sleep.

There was a serious show of security at the block Thursday morning, where police investigators continued their work. A uniformed Manitoba Housing guard patrolled the lobby and exterior of the block before making his way upstairs for a floor-by-floor check. Tilling says that level of security is new.

"Before we never seen nothing like that. Usually it's a guy who sits in the lobby at night."

The building uses key cards. In theory, that means only residents and people they buzz in can enter the block. There are security cameras at the front and back of the building.

"People sneak in," Tilling says. "They wait until someone buzzes the door and they go in, too."

She says since the killing, visitors are more carefully screened by security. Tilling has seen people sent back outside to buzz the people they claim to be visiting.

Manitoba Housing officials say there were 78 noise and disturbance calls at the block in the past three months. Most of the noise complaints were categorized as minor. Police have been called to the building 11 times since the beginning of August.

Another serious incident, a standoff with an armed man on Oct. 17, ended peacefully, although Tilling says residents were frightened by the police presence.

In January 2009, a young woman died after falling off her apartment balcony. Her boyfriend admitted shoving her during an alcohol-and-drug-fuelled fight. He is serving 61/2 years for manslaughter.

Tilling lived in the block at the time of that killing, too.

Manitoba Housing's security branch will hold a tenant forum on Nov. 13 at the block.

Erin Tilling says meetings won't do any good.

The violence in her block ebbs and flows around the issuance of government cheques. When family allowance and welfare money comes out, so do the troubles. The end-of-the-month cheques bring more trouble because they're bigger, she says.

Not everyone on social assistance is a drinker and certainly few of them are violent. But some residents at 375 Assiniboine Ave. are terrified of what happens when the sun goes down.

A disabled woman shouldn't have to rely on a cheap chair and a watch cat to make her feel safe in government housing.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 B1

History

Updated on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:28 AM CST: replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Poll

Will you miss Grandma Elm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google