Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera

Reporter

Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.

The lifelong Winnipegger managed to snag a few internships at the paper during his journalism studies at Red River College.

Before he rejoined the Free Press fold in 2020 as a web editor, he was a television and radio reporter and before that, a small-town newspaperman.

 

Recent articles of Erik Pindera

Police union president retires after eight years at helm

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Police union president retires after eight years at helm

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 23, 2022

The longtime head of the city’s police union is stepping down.

After eight years as Winnipeg Police Association president and 33 years with the Winnipeg Police Service, Maurice “Moe” Sabourin is retiring from the department Saturday.

The outspoken union leader has been involved in recent public clashes with Chief Danny Smyth over issues including staffing, morale and violent crime.

In March 2021, Sabourin wrote to the chief about the state of morale among cops, which he qualified as a growing crisis, particularly after then-recent deaths of two veteran officers.

Friday, Sep. 23, 2022

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Maurice ‘Moe’ Sabourin is retiring after 33 years with the Winnipeg Police Service and eight years as president of the Winnipeg Police Association.

Roofer not impressed with police response to trailer theft

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Roofer not impressed with police response to trailer theft

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 23, 2022

A local roofing company’s project manager is frustrated after a work trailer equipped with a GPS tracker was stolen Wednesday night — and thinks police did little to help after staffers tracked it to a garage.

Rick Lavalee of Pristine Roofing and Siding said the company, which has its office on Fleet Avenue off of Pembina Highway, has had three trailers and a van stolen in recent years. That prompted the owners to install GPS beacons on all of their equipment, he said.

“Two nights ago we came back to the office and noticed there was a trailer that had been stolen, so we looked it up on the security-camera footage and, sure enough, we saw it getting stolen,” Lavalee said.

“They then went to the GPS and they noticed that it wasn’t that far away.”

Friday, Sep. 23, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Rick Lavallee, project manager, Pristine Roofing is frustrated after a GPS-equipped trailer was stolen Wednesday night — and police did little to help.

Senior assaulted in daytime carjacking

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Senior assaulted in daytime carjacking

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

Winnipeg police are searching for a suspect after a senior was assaulted during a carjacking on a residential street in Norwood East.

The 72-year-old woman went to her parked vehicle on Horace Street, just west of Tache Avenue, at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, when a man confronted her, police said Thursday.

The suspect tried to take her keys from her hand, punched her and eventually dragged her from the vehicle and drove off, police said.

The woman was taken to hospital in stable condition.

Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

Winnipeg police are searching for a suspect after a senior was assaulted during a carjacking on a residential street in Norwood East.

The 72-year-old woman went to her parked vehicle on Horace Street, just west of Tache Avenue, at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, when a man confronted her, police said Thursday.

The suspect tried to take her keys from her hand, punched her and eventually dragged her from the vehicle and drove off, police said.

The woman was taken to hospital in stable condition.

Police, fire, bylaw-enforcement team up in struggle to deal with Winnipeg's derelict properties

Erik Pindera 8 minute read Preview

Police, fire, bylaw-enforcement team up in struggle to deal with Winnipeg's derelict properties

Erik Pindera 8 minute read Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

Vivian Ketchum sees the city workers pull up to the burned-out husks that used to be homes on William Avenue and walks over from the bus stop across the street to give them a piece of her mind.

Something needs to be done about these vacant buildings, the 58-year-old Anishinaabe community activist tells an assistant fire chief, a police staff sergeant and a bylaw officer on a recent afternoon.

Up above, a pigeon is roosting on a third-storey window frame that’s charred black from multiple recent blazes — five total since June 2017. Now, a real estate agent’s sign announces the property at 509 William is for sale: $69,900.

Ketchum worries young Indigenous girls and women are being exploited in vacant and derelict buildings in her neighbourhood. She’s also concerned about the people who pry off the plywood sheets installed over the doors and window frames so they can live inside.

Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

John Bernuy from Community Bylaw Enforcement Services (left), WPS Staff Sergeant Rob Duttchen, and WFPS Assistant Chief Scott Wilkinson check out a vacant building on Mayfair Avenue in Winnipeg.

Police seek info after woman in wheelchair attacked

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Police seek info after woman in wheelchair attacked

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

Winnipeg police are asking for the public’s help in the case of a wheelchair user who was hospitalized after an assault and robbery.

Police said Thursday the 62-year-old woman was in her wheelchair in a back lane near Hargrave Street and Ellice Avenue on July 20, when she was attacked from behind and fell to the ground.

The woman suffered a severe injury that left her hospitalized for more than a month.

Police said the woman doesn’t remember much about the robbery, including the exact time and location, but her wallet and jewellery were stolen and she thinks a bystander helped her back into her wheelchair.

Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Constable Jay Murray said the WPS is asking for the public’s help after investigators exhausted all leads to no avail.

Goertzen adds bear spray to his Criminal Code-amendment wish list

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Goertzen adds bear spray to his Criminal Code-amendment wish list

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2022

Manitoba’s justice minister is lobbying the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to make it harder for criminals who use bear pepper spray in assaults to receive bail.

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen also said Wednesday that he wants the federal justice department to amend the legislation to classify bear spray, when used in criminal acts and disguised with black tape to make it easier to conceal, as a prohibited weapon.

The pepper spray, which is legally used to ward off bear attacks is, by itself, considered a non-prohibited weapon and is freely available for purchase, with Manitoba retailers required to keep sales records.

Goertzen wants hikers and other people who have a legitimate use for bear spray to continue to be able to purchase it without significant hassle, he said in an interview in his office in the Manitoba Legislative Building. Instead, he said, governments should target criminals.

Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2022

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Provincial Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen wants hikers and other people who have a legitimate use for bear spray to continue to be able to purchase it without significant hassle, he said in an interview.

Two arrested in gunpoint carjacking

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Two arrested in gunpoint carjacking

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2022

Winnipeg police have charged two people accused in a carjacking and attempted armed robbery Monday night.

Police, including the dog unit and helicopter, were called to the 500 block of St. Mary’s Road at 11:44 p.m., where a man and woman reportedly armed with a gun were chasing another man, the Winnipeg Police Service said Wednesday.

The caller told police they had heard a gunshot.

Officers were flagged down at the scene by a witness who reported a woman on the hood of a car nearby, police said.

Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Winnipeg Police Service headquarters, where an individual doused himself in flammable liquid and attempted to light himself on fire, in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. For --- story.

Winnipeg Free Press 2022.

Women warned about groper on city buses

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Women warned about groper on city buses

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2022

Women who take Winnipeg city buses are being warned to watch out for a man who has groped several riders.

The suspect pinched women’s buttocks while trying to kiss them on at least six buses over four-and-a-half hours Tuesday morning.

Police said they received multiple reports of similar assaults but had yet to speak to the victims.

Multiple women told bus drivers that an unknown man had grabbed their buttocks and tried to kiss them, police said. Another victim said they had been spat on while the suspect left one of the buses.

Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Multiple women told bus drivers that an unknown man had grabbed their buttocks and tried to kiss them, police said.

Mayoral candidate Motkaluk seeks to fold police board

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Mayoral candidate Motkaluk seeks to fold police board

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2022

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk wants the Winnipeg Police Board to fire the city’s top cop — then, if elected, she would seek to have the province abolish the board.

Motkaluk made the pledges in front of police headquarters Tuesday, where she criticized WPS Chief Danny Smyth for his comments in July, following a spate of assaults at The Forks and other high-profile violent incidents.

Smyth said at a July 8 news conference the violence was alarming, but nothing new amid year-on-year increases in such crime.

Motkaluk filed a complaint to the police board this week, asking for Smyth’s dismissal, under its rules of practice and procedure.

Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk filed a complaint to the police board this week, asking for the chief’s dismissal, under its rules of practice and procedure.

‘Frustrated’ civic workers’ union ramps up strike preparations

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

‘Frustrated’ civic workers’ union ramps up strike preparations

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Monday, Sep. 19, 2022

The largest union of city workers is poised to strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500, which represents about 4,900 city employees, has instructed its members to sign up for picket duty following the failure of the most recent round of contract negotiations.

City and union representatives met for conciliation talks last Thursday and Friday in efforts to arrive at a new labour deal for the workers, who’ve been without a contract since February 2021.

“Taking strike action is always a last resort, but it appears we are headed in that direction,” union president Gord Delbridge said in a statement to members from the bargaining committee late Friday. “While we don’t have a strike deadline set, we are continuing our strike preparations in the event that job action cannot be avoided.”

Monday, Sep. 19, 2022

ERIK PINDERA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 has instructed its members to sign up for picket duty following the failure of the most recent round of contract negotiations.

Rising emergency calls strain resources, police chief says

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Rising emergency calls strain resources, police chief says

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Sunday, Sep. 18, 2022

The skyrocketing number of emergency calls means the city’s police chief will likely soon ask for more cash.

At the Winnipeg Police Board Friday, Winnipeg Police Service chief Danny Smyth said a request for more resources is “certainly worthy of discussion.”

He’s planning to submit an administrative report to the city requesting more resources later this year, he said.

“The demand for service is outstripping the resources that we have,” he told reporters.

Sunday, Sep. 18, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The WPS communications centre is currently dispatching more than 500 calls per day.

Public trust in city police declines: survey

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Public trust in city police declines: survey

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Friday, Sep. 16, 2022

The perception of Winnipeg police has worsened and more people think the force is overfunded, according to a recent public opinion survey.

At the same time, respondents also believe crime is increasing year over year and many think there are too few officers on the street, the poll shows.

The Winnipeg Police Service public opinion survey, presented Friday to the Winnipeg Police Board, was conducted by Prairie Research Associates over a week in August. A total 600 city residents were surveyed by phone. |

Friday, Sep. 16, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILES

Confidence in the Winnipeg Police Service is down — 61 per cent this year, compared to a high of 81 per cent in 2015.

Police still seek to ID dead man

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Police still seek to ID dead man

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Thursday, Sep. 15, 2022

Winnipeg police and the provincial medical examiner’s office are trying to identify a man who died in hospital in early August after collapsing outside a McDonald’s restaurant on Main Street.

Police first released details about the unusual incident on Sept. 6 but did not reveal that the man, who was in his late teens or early 20s, had died. Investigators had hoped to inform family of his death first.

Further attempts to identify the man have been unsuccessful, Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jay Murray said today.

“The medical examiner’s office is anxious to identify this person… as are we,” Murray said. “Being able to tell his loved ones what happened to him — he’s probably missed — it’s important to us to have them notified.”

Thursday, Sep. 15, 2022

Viewpoints clash over civic campaign literature photo use

Erik Pindera 5 minute read Preview

Viewpoints clash over civic campaign literature photo use

Erik Pindera 5 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

A Winnipeg woman says she was shocked to find her photograph in a mayoral candidate’s campaign literature, and upset at the lack of response in her quest to have the image removed.

Bev Pike wants the photo taken during a July meeting between Jenny Motkaluk and members of the non-partisan South Osborne Residents’ Group deleted, saying it was used without permission.

“We didn’t consent for that use. We can’t be partisan, for any candidate,” group volunteer Pike said.

The mayoral hopeful, however, was unrepentant. The photo, along with others in the printed pamphlet (also viewable online), are not meant to imply endorsement, Motkaluk said.

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Bev Pike is a volunteer with the South Osborne Residents’ whose photo appeared in a Motkaluk flyer without her permission.

Mayoral candidate Klein promises to rev up paramedics response

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Mayoral candidate Klein promises to rev up paramedics response

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

Mayoral candidate Kevin Klein is pledging, if elected, to improve ambulance wait times by introducing new paramedic units focused on low-priority calls.

The plan would build on the existing emergency paramedics in the community program, which addresses non-emergency calls, he said Wednesday.

The new units would be made up of advanced care paramedics, who would respond in SUVs, rather than ambulances or fire vehicles.

Klein said the move would allow firefighter paramedics to focus on fires, fire prevention and acute calls such as cardiac arrests, vehicle collisions and scenes with multiple injures.

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Kevin Klein said the move would allow firefighter paramedics to focus on fires, fire prevention and acute calls such as cardiac arrests, vehicle collisions and scenes with multiple injures.

Mounties seek info in 2018 missing persons case

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Mounties seek info in 2018 missing persons case

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

RCMP are again making a public appeal for information in the disappearance of a rural Manitoba man more than four years ago.

Vernon Karl Otto was last seen May 29, 2018.

The then-66-year-old met with family that morning, and told them he was going to run errands and do yard work at his home outside Stead, near the eastern edge of Lake Winnipeg, about 88 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, RCMP said Tuesday.

Otto told his family he planned to go look at a crawler tractor. Someone also spoke to him that afternoon, around 1 p.m., while he was believed to be working his field.

Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

RCMP

Vernon Karl Otto was last seen May 29, 2018.

Health care aides accused of assaulting care home residents

Erik Pindera 5 minute read Preview

Health care aides accused of assaulting care home residents

Erik Pindera 5 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

Two health-care aides face charges of assaulting elderly residents of a Winnipeg personal care home, eight months after staff blew the whistle on the alleged abuse.

A 49-year-old woman will be charged with three counts of assault and a 36-year-old woman will be charged with two counts, the Winnipeg Police Service said Tuesday. Both women, who have not been working since allegations became public in June, were released on undertakings with conditions mandated by the Criminal Code.

Dianna Klassen, whose late father David Middleton was initially suspected of being mistreated, said she’s “extremely angry” in light of the police investigation conclusion.

“The fact that they’ve substantiated it, I think, is a good thing. More importantly, what needs to happen is legislation and guidelines brought in by the WRHA that put stronger controls over these privately run, for-profit nursing homes (to) allow people to come in and investigate things like this on a more open basis,” Klassen said.

Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

A 49-year-old woman is facing three charges of assault and a 36-year-old woman is facing two charges of assault after abuse allegations at Extendicare’s Oakview Place at 2395 Ness Ave.

Victim’s family hopes for answers in Maples slaying

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Victim’s family hopes for answers in Maples slaying

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 9, 2022

The family of a man fatally assaulted at a home in the Maples last week is trying to understand why he was there in the first place.

Dakota Beardy, 26, was attacked at a residence on the 200 block of Mapleglen Drive in the early hours of Sept. 3.

Winnipeg police officers were called to the scene just after 1 a.m., police said Tuesday. The officers applied tourniquets to stem the flow of blood from the injured man’s limbs before paramedics rushed him to hospital in critical condition. He was later pronounced dead.

Officers arrested a teenage male suspect in the area. Homicide investigators believe the 16-year-old suspect and the victim were together at the house when an altercation occurred, leading to an assault.

Friday, Sep. 9, 2022

The family of a man fatally assaulted at a home in the Maples last week is trying to understand why he was there in the first place.

Dakota Beardy, 26, was attacked at a residence on the 200 block of Mapleglen Drive in the early hours of Sept. 3.

Winnipeg police officers were called to the scene just after 1 a.m., police said Tuesday. The officers applied tourniquets to stem the flow of blood from the injured man’s limbs before paramedics rushed him to hospital in critical condition. He was later pronounced dead.

Officers arrested a teenage male suspect in the area. Homicide investigators believe the 16-year-old suspect and the victim were together at the house when an altercation occurred, leading to an assault.

Winnipeg Arena Queen portrait to get public display

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Winnipeg Arena Queen portrait to get public display

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

The enormous painting of Queen Elizabeth that watched over NHL games from the rafters of the old Winnipeg Arena for two decades will be displayed for public viewing in the coming weeks.

Ron J. D’Errico, owner of the five-by-seven-metre portrait (who said he acquired it as a gift), plans to hang it by the end of the month in the new Transcona hangar offices of his firm, Impact Security Group.

However, D’Errico noted Thursday, he had already planned to display the massive depiction (currently in storage) prior to the Queen’s death at 96.

“I actually had… already started the process of permanently putting her inside the hangar of our office (1225 Plessis Rd., Unit A), and she’ll look amazing on the wall,” he said in a phone interview.

Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

The painting of Queen Elizabeth II from the old Winnipeg Arena was displayed outside of the Pint on Garry Street prior to the Heritage Classic hockey games in 2016. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Fatal train crash inquest to focus on response, communication

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Preview

Fatal train crash inquest to focus on response, communication

Erik Pindera 3 minute read Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

An inquest into a fatal train derailment in a remote part of the North won’t examine whether faster or different medical treatment at the scene could have prevented the death, a Manitoba judge has ruled.

Kevin Anderson, 38, died Sept. 15, 2018, after the Hudson Bay Railway train he was conducting derailed in Ponton, south of Thompson. It had been carrying hazardous goods. He lay pinned while bleeding out, and died after nearly nine hours.

Another crew member was seriously injured but survived after they were extricated by emergency crews.

The emergency response was delayed as the trapped crew members were unable to reach their dispatch or call for help. The wreck was discovered by chance after a helicopter passing by overhead spotted it two hours later, the Transportation Safety Board found.

Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022

Transportation Safety Board of Canada photo Aerial view of the train derailment near Ponton, Manitoba. Derailment occured September 15. Photo taken September 18, 2018.

‘24/7 crack shack’ cook sentenced to eight years

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

‘24/7 crack shack’ cook sentenced to eight years

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2022

Timothy Verbong cooked cocaine, cut it, weighed it and packaged it into crack that was sold from a “24/7 crack shack” by a criminal ring that terrorized the residents of Point Douglas.

For his integral role in a trafficking operation that was busted in spring 2021, the 61-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Winnipeg judge Wednesday.

Verbong pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence between Oct. 13, 2020 and March 4, 2021. Other charges, including trafficking, assaulting a police officer and breaching court conditions, were stayed.

“His role was to produce, essentially, the product for the network,” Crown attorney Raegan Rankin told court.

Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Unit seized property, cash, jewelry, cocaine and crack cocaine along with other items during the arrest of 26 people in a months long investigation they are calling Project Matriarch.

Accused teen killer fell prey to drugs, gangs: granddad

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Preview

Accused teen killer fell prey to drugs, gangs: granddad

Erik Pindera 4 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

The grandfather of a 15-year-old boy accused of killing two people in Point Douglas says he was influenced by drugs and gangs in his home community and his troubles worsened when he was put into a group home.

The boy cannot be named by law, although Winnipeg police had identified him and released his photo, when he remained at large and a danger to the public last month.

He is one of two 15-year-old males charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of aggravated assault in relation to violent attacks on the Main Street strip on Aug. 22.

The grandfather offered his family’s prayers and condolences to the families of the victims.

Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES

Marvin William Felix, 54, was attacked in a lane behind a hotel on the 600 block of Main Street. He died Aug. 25.

Man charged with stabbing three people

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Man charged with stabbing three people

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

Winnipeg police have charged a man in the stabbing of three people in a Flora Avenue home Friday night.

Police, including tactical officers armed with long guns, were called about a man trying to stab people at the residence on the 700 block, near Parr Street, at about 7:30 p.m.

Officers found three injured people and began to give them medical care, the Winnipeg Police Service said Tuesday.

A woman in her 20s and a man in his 30s were taken to hospital in unstable condition, later upgraded to stable. A second woman in her 20s was taken to hospital in stable condition.

Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

Winnipeg police have charged a man in the stabbing of three people in a Flora Avenue home Friday night.

Police, including tactical officers armed with long guns, were called about a man trying to stab people at the residence on the 700 block, near Parr Street, at about 7:30 p.m.

Officers found three injured people and began to give them medical care, the Winnipeg Police Service said Tuesday.

A woman in her 20s and a man in his 30s were taken to hospital in unstable condition, later upgraded to stable. A second woman in her 20s was taken to hospital in stable condition.

Home Street death city’s 36th homicide of year

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Preview

Home Street death city’s 36th homicide of year

Erik Pindera 2 minute read Friday, Sep. 2, 2022

Winnipeg Police Service homicide investigators are searching for answers after a 66-year-old man was found slain in the West End.

Police were called to a residential building on the 600 block of Home Street just before 8 a.m. Thursday, for a report of a badly injured man in one of the suites.

Son Minh Nguyen was already dead when officers arrived.

“There were certainly a number of suspicious circumstances involving this male’s death that led us to get the homicide unit involved early,” WPS spokesman Const. Jay Murray said Friday.

Friday, Sep. 2, 2022

A residential building on the 600 block of Home Street, where Winnipeg Police Service officers found Son Minh Nguyen, 66, dead on Sept. 1, 2022. His death is believed to be a homicide. (ERIK PINDERA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS )