Police arrest three suspects in teen’s slaying inside beer vendor ‘This is a very tragic incident,’ police say, announcing charges in fatal Feb. 15 armed robbery
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The arrests of three suspects in the slaying of a 19-year-old man working at a city beer vendor two weeks ago may offer a shred of comfort to the people grieving his death, a family friend says.
John Lloyd Barrion was shot during a late-night robbery just after 3 a.m. Feb. 15 inside the beer store at the Travelodge by Wyndam Winnipeg hotel on Notre Dame Avenue. He later died in hospital.
“At first, they were kind of hopeless, but after the vigil, (the family) felt that they had the full backing of the community,” said Ponz Mapuyan, whose sons were close friends with the victim. “From then on, what they were wishing for was final closure, finding out what really caused his death and the perpetrators being caught.”
“We can never bring back his life, but somehow knowing the police did their job — the community may have been responsible for pressing the authorities — I think that really meant something to them.”
Winnipeg Police Service spokeswoman Const. Dani McKinnon announced the three arrests during a Monday afternoon news conference.
“This is a very tragic incident — not to downplay any of the other homicides that we investigate — but this one has been very public over the past week. The victim, John Barrion, was very beloved in his community and he was working,” McKinnon said, adding the accused killers did not know the victim prior to the shooting.
“This was an unexpected set of circumstances where this robbery took place. This was a random robbery.”
Because the matter is now before the courts she did not provide any further details.
McKinnon later told the Free Press the robbery didn’t appear to be different than any other armed holdup at a beer vendor — until the assailants pulled the trigger.
“I don’t know why, and I think that’s the hardest part — I know that’s one of the hardest parts that the community is dealing with — is the ‘why; why did you have to do that?’ and I don’t have an answer,” she said.
“I don’t know why, and I think that’s the hardest part– I know that’s one of the hardest parts that the community is dealing with — is the ‘why; why did you have to do that?’ and I don’t have an answer.” – Const. Dani McKinnon
The victim’s brother, John Emmanuel Barrion, previously told the Free Press he was found in a staff-only area behind a protective shield, which has an opening to allow transactions.
John Lloyd Barrion immigrated to Winnipeg with his family from the Philippines when he was less than a year old and had dreams of becoming a chef. He started working at the vendor four months ago, and recently completed his training and probationary period. The Tec Voc High School graduate shared his earnings with his parents.
The three suspects face a lengthy list of murder, manslaughter and armed-robbery charges.
Robert Gordon Francis, 37, was arrested after a traffic stop Feb. 16. He has been charged with manslaughter, armed robbery, acting as an accessory after the fact to murder, conspiring to commit an indictable offence and unauthorized possession of a firearm in a vehicle.
McKinnon said the police dog unit tracked the suspect vehicle and its officers made the first arrest at Notre Dame Avenue and Isabel Street.
“(The dog unit was) instrumental in having a domino effect in these arrests,” she said.
“(The dog unit was) instrumental in having a domino effect in these arrests.” – Const. Dani McKinnon
William Arthur Sampson, 51, was arrested Friday after a search warrant was executed at a Grant Park-area home. He has been charged with second-degree murder, armed robbery using a firearm and multiple weapons charges.
Ryan Jeron Smith, 40, was arrested the same day after a brief vehicle chase in the William Whyte neighbourhood. He also faces second-degree murder, armed robbery and weapons charges, along with fleeing a peace officer, driving a conveyance when prohibited and failing to comply with two probation orders.
All three men are in custody.
“We believe the main people involved in this robbery and homicide have been arrested, however, just because an arrest has been made or a number of arrests have been made, it doesn’t always mean the investigation’s concluded,” McKinnon said.
A Free Press review of court records shows Francis doesn’t appear to have any prior criminal convictions. Smith was convicted of a 2019 theft and served 20 days. Sampson has a previous robbery conviction in 2020, for which he served 234 days and received two years probation. He was also convicted of possession of a weapon in 2015 and served 150 days. An assault charge in 2014 was stayed for a one-year peace bond.
Mapuyan said the Filipino and wider community rallied to support the Barrion family — a GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $15,000 for the family.
— With files from Dean Pritchard and Malak Abas
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.