Blood soaked the tan pants of a 12-year-old boy stabbed and killed on Burrows Avenue Friday evening from below his belly button to his knee, said Spencer Bucci, 19, who’d been watching from his third story window. Michael Bucci, Spencer Bucci’s father, said the boy left a trail of blood about 80 metres long along the sidewalk and street.
The attack happened in the 200 block around 7:19 p.m.
Spencer Bucci said he heard people shouting at each other through his open window, as he relaxed with his girlfriend. When he looked out, he saw two groups of people. One group was three or four boys and a girl, he said, five total. "The oldest one might have been 15; the youngest maybe 10."
The other group was a woman and man in their early-mid 20s pushing a stroller with two children, approximately 3 and 5 years old, said Spencer Bucci. His girlfriend started recording a video, which police later took for evidence.
"The woman was yelling, ‘Get away from us!’ and ‘Don’t come close to us!’ and it looked like she had a knife in her hand," he said.
The knife looked long, maybe 15 centimetres, and had a dark blade, said Spencer Bucci. "She took a swing at the girl," he said. "She missed."
Spencer Bucci said he then heard people yelling from down the street. He turned and saw people coming. When he looked back a moment later, he said, the boy had already been stabbed.
"He was just covered in blood," he said. "Covered in blood."
He said he called 911 right away. "I could hear sirens while I was in the middle of the call, so somebody else had already called, or they had dispatched police immediately."
He saw the boy stagger down the street, so he ran downstairs. When he got to the door, he saw a woman, who turned out to be an off-duty nurse, tending the boy in the middle of the road, he said. The boy’s shirt had been cut open. Firefighters had arrived. Police and paramedics soon after. Except for one or two boys who fled after the attack, the boy’s group remained with him.
"He was in a lot of pain and discomfort, and his friends were very, very upset," said Spencer Bucci. Michael Bucci, who had followed his son out, said: "I heard the words ‘sucking chest wound’ and the kid wasn’t moving. And I knew at that point that it’s just not good."
The boy died of his injuries at hospital.
Spencer Bucci said he saw one of the boys involved further down the street. He called to police.
"I just yelled, ‘hey, he’s down there."
Spencer Bucci said he spent the evening in a state of shock. He and his girlfriend were at the police station until about 5:30 a.m., and even after that, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
"It’s sort of burned into my brain," he said. "I had a hard time falling asleep, just running it over in my head, everything that happened."
Michael Bucci said: "I could see it in his eyes when I talked to him before he went with the police last night." He choked back tears when he tried to say more and could not muster his voice during a long silence.
"Kids shouldn’t have to be afraid," he said finally. "We’re tired of feeling afraid."
This is the second homicide on the street in under two months. On May 20, police discovered the body of 33-year-old Trevor Dorion in the 300 block of Burrows Avenue. Police said he’d been assaulted over a prolonged period 12 days earlier and had succumbed to his injuries.
"All along, we the neighbourhood are saying to the authorities, it’s escalating. It’s getting worse. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes a tragedy — and that’s what this is," said Michael Bucci. "That poor kid. I’ve seen him in the neighbourhood."
He said he didn’t know the boy personally. A neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, pointed out three young boys sitting on the curb with their faces cupped in their palms. Community police officers stood guard over them and escorted them around the corner. The neighbour said they knew the boy who died.
Michael Bucci said the violence in the area has taken a toll on him and his family.
"I don’t feel safe," he said. His other son, who has cancer and whose immune system has been weakened by treatment, has been trapped in the house because "he doesn’t even feel safe in his own backyard because of the junkies."
Even so, the Buccis have a strong connection to their community.
"I was born in this house, raised in this house," said Spencer Bucci. His father listed many of his neighbours with ease and said: "I’ve spent 20 years building a rapport with the neighbours to build a neighbourhood and community. And the good people on this block have been a part of that community for a long, long time."
The Buccis said they couldn’t afford to move — maybe if they had the money they would, both said. But Michael Bucci thought about it and walked back the statement, emotion again lumping in his throat.
"I love my neighbours. I couldn’t — I couldn’t leave knowing they’d be still dealing with this sh-t," he said.
Spencer Bucci said: "It’s not a bad place to live, there’s just bad things that happen here."
Police believe the confrontation was not gang related, said Const. Jay Murray at a press conference Saturday morning. He said police believe the groups "may not have known each other" before the attack. "Numerous" community members called in to report the argument or the stabbing itself, he said.
The 12-year-old’s death marks Winnipeg’s 18th homicide of the year. It is the 11th since May 19 and the fourth in five days. The boy is the youngest victim this year.