Winnipeg’s 2019 homicide count rose to 10 over St. Patrick’s Day weekend after two men were killed in separate incidents, continuing a busy year for the investigators tasked with solving slayings in the city.
There have been five reported homicides this month alone, beginning with the shocking home invasion that took the life of a teenager on March 3 to a reported fatal stabbing at a rooming house Sunday night.
The five most recent homicides spanned the West End, North End, far West End, North End and Downtown.
By this time last year, there had only been four killings in the city, according to Winnipeg Police Service statistics.
"It’s taxing to have this many homicides occurring so frequently in such a short amount of time. It really is consuming and difficult on the homicide unit. These incidents are happening late at night, early in the morning, officers are literally working around the clock," said WPS spokeswoman Const. Tammy Skrabek.
"The officers are going home, getting minimal sleep, just what they need to come back into work and try to finish the investigation."
Charges have been announced in seven of the 10 homicides. If the pace of killings continue, the Winnipeg Police Service might catch more cases this year than it did in 2011 when it dealt with a record 41 slayings.
The most recent homicide came Sunday when officers were called to the scene of a home in the 400 block of Langside Street. The victim, an adult male who has yet to be identified, was suffering from serious injuries. He was taken to hospital in unstable condition where he was pronounced dead.
Blood could be seen splattered on the snow in the front yard and two hypodermic needles were visible on the ground, next to other rubbish and debris scattered around the property.
The Free Press approached a man – who did not want to give his name – taking belongings out of the back of the house in bags Monday afternoon. He said the building serves as a rooming house where "four or five" people live.
"When I came in last night it (had) already happened. Apparently there was a disagreement upstairs and somebody got stabbed. That was that," the man said, adding he was unaware of whether police had anyone in custody.
Skrabek said the WPS identification unit was on scene Monday and homicide investigators interviewed people who were at the house at the time of the slaying.
"I know the homicide unit is speaking with people who were at the scene and some others who would be witnesses," she said.
On Saturday morning, the city experienced its ninth homicide of 2019 when a man was assaulted in the area of Selkirk Avenue and Salter Street. He later died of his injuries.
While police have yet to identify the victim, family and friends have posted online that it was 38-year-old John Gabriel who was reportedly walking to his apartment at the time of the assault.
"Last year we only had four (homicides) at this time. So we’ve more than doubled the first quarter and March isn’t even over. We can’t predict homicides or violent crime, but we can try to look at the pace they’re happening at," Skrabek said.
"The cases in all of these homicides are very different. You’ve got a random meth-fuelled attack. You’ve got gang-on-gang violence. There is random street violence. I really don’t have an answer in terms of what is fuelling it."
On Saturday, police laid charges against Ronald Bruce Chubb, 29, who is accused of killing 17-year-old Jaime Adao in a random, meth-fuelled home invasion on the 700 block of McGee Street. Chubb faces charges of second degree murder, attempted murder and breach of probation.
The slaying of Adao shocked both law enforcement, 911 operators and the city’s tight-knit Filipino community.
Adao had been home with his grandmother when Chubb is alleged to have forced his way inside the home. The attack was captured on a 911 call from the time a man broke into the house and began assaulting Adao with a weapon to when officers arrived and at least one discharged their firearm several times.
Chubb was taken to hospital in critical condition where he reportedly underwent multiple surgeries. Police confirmed Monday he’s been released from the hospital and remanded into custody.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba – the provincial police watchdog – is investigating the decision by one or more officers to open fire to end the attack. Meanwhile, the WPS homicide unit retained the investigation into the slaying of Adao.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Updated on Monday, March 18, 2019 at 10:06 PM CDT: Turns off comments.