Patrons left out in the cold after fatal stabbing closes Millennium Library


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A stabbing death on the main floor of the Millennium Library Sunday has shaken regular patrons and shuttered the downtown facility until next week.

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A stabbing death on the main floor of the Millennium Library Sunday has shaken regular patrons and shuttered the downtown facility until next week.

The man was stabbed shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday. A dispute between patrons who had been causing disturbances inside the library for most of the day led to the stabbing, the Free Press previously reported.

Chukuka Egbri doesn’t know where else he will go.

The 31-year-old, who is blind, goes to the library daily to get out of the house.

“I come here just to read and stay occupied, rather than just being alone,” Egbri said Monday outside the main entrance at Donald Street and Graham Avenue. “I don’t know what to do next — I’m standing here thinking, ‘What should I do? What next step should I take?’ It’s not good not being able to have access to the library.”

Egbri said a police officer told him last week to be careful when he makes his daily visits.

“He was very emphatic about it,” he said of the police officer’s warning.

“He said the library was becoming more dangerous every day… For now, I’ll have to keep coming here, because I really don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Robert Van Schepdael, 59, walks from a homeless shelter at Main Street and Higgins Avenue every day to the Donald Street library, where he uses the internet to play a video game on his laptop.

“I can’t believe someone would pull that crap off in the library,” he said Monday.

“It screws peoples’ lives up, people depend on that for their daily entertainment. Senior citizens are here every morning, they’ve been at it longer than I have.”

He said he doesn’t think the public wants enhanced security tables set up again — airport-style screening measures and mandatory bag checks that were put in place in 2019 in response to violent incidents and safety concerns.

“I didn’t really have a problem with that, now you know why — one person dying, that’s worth having a security system in place to make sure that never happens,” Van Schepdael said.

The enhanced measures were scrapped in the summer of 2020 after a grassroots group organized protests against the enhanced measures.

“You don’t want to deny people public access — they have security here, but I don’t know if security wants to put their lives in danger just for a minimum-wage job,” Van Schepdael said.

“It’s certainly upsetting. I never thought I would see a stabbing here in the library… people come here for entertainment purposes, reading or using the computers, research, whatever — there’s students doing homework all the time.”

On Monday morning, a stream of people tried to enter the library, turning away in frustration when the Free Press informed them it was closed for the next two days due to the killing. No signs were posted at the library’s main entrance shortly after the scheduled opening time of 10 a.m.

Among the would-be patrons was Bernadine Comegan, 63, who said she regularly comes to the library to use its services.

“It’s one of my go-to places,” said Comegan, who lives downtown. “That’s too bad. That’s awful.”

But she said “nothing surprises” her these days, noting she saw police outside the building Sunday evening. She hopes it was an isolated incident.

Joseph Guiboche, a 41-year-old commercial glazier, frequently comes to the library to use the 3D printer and other technology in the ideaMILL, rent video games, look at microfiche and use the internet.

“I feel bad for the person… but more than anything, it hits close to home because it’s somewhere I frequent myself. You hear about violence in the City of Winnipeg all the time, whereas when you just miss it, it’s a bit of a different feel, a different realization,” said Guiboche.

He said the incident won’t change his habits.

“For me personally, I realize a lot of the trouble in this city is very specific to the individuals involved in it, so I don’t feel like I’m going to be in trouble or should fear for my personal safety,” Guiboche said.

“However, I do realize that it’s an issue for many… for them, it very well might ruin their want to visit the library.”

Twitter: @erik_pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera

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


Updated on Monday, December 12, 2022 5:41 PM CST: Updates headline

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