December 15, 2019

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City's 20th homicide victim identified

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This article was published 3/6/2019 (195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A 32-year-old lawyer has been identified as Winnipeg's 20th homicide victim of 2019.

Police found Justin Silicz when reporting to a call of an assault around 4:35 a.m. Sunday, and took him to the hospital in critical condition. Silicz later died of his injuries.

Justin Silicz.

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Justin Silicz.

His brother, Michael Silicz, confirmed the victim’s identity but declined to comment.

Silicz was an attorney specializing in transborder transactions and real estate law at Pullan Kammerloch Frohlinger. His profile on the law firm’s website described him an avid sports fan and fitness enthusiast.

When reached by phone on Monday, an employee of the firm said they would have no comment on Silicz’s death.

Police released few details of the case, and said the major crimes unit is continuing its investigation.

Winnipeg Police Services spokesperson Const. Jay Murray said police are asking for the public’s help in the case — particularly because they found Silicz on Arlington Street between Winnipeg Avenue and Notre Dame Avenue, where there are lots of businesses and homes with security cameras that may have picked up unusual activity the night of Silicz’s death.

"Somebody will likely have seen something that can help with this investigation, and it’s important that those people come forward," Murray said at a press conference Monday morning.

Murray said there is still no evidence that suggests Silicz’s death was connected to two other assaults that happened nearby that same night, though police are still investigating.

'Somebody will likely have seen something that can help with this investigation, and it’s important that those people come forward' – Winnipeg Police Services spokesperson Const. Jay Murray

About 45 minutes earlier that morning, officers responded to a call about an assault at Portage Avenue and Spence Street, where they found an injured man who was taken to hospital. Another man was assaulted around the same time in the 400 block of Langside Street. Both men were later upgraded to stable condition.

"I don’t believe that we have any evidence at this time to suggest they are related, but we’d be remiss not to look into that connection," Murray said.

Murray said police don’t have anyone in custody in any of these incidents.

Silicz’s death marks Winnipeg’s 20th homicide of 2019, six of which remain unsolved.

Murray said the city’s homicide unit has its hands full with the cases — which is part of the reason Silicz’s case is being handled by major crimes instead of homicide — but it’s not an unprecedented number in Winnipeg.

"We certainly feel that we’re stretched to our limits, but it’s not a position that we haven’t been in before. This is the nature of police work," Murray said. "Hopefully we’ll see that number come down soon."

Police are also investigating a suspicious death following a fire in the 500 block of Manitoba Avenue on June 1, where they found a deceased man. The victim was identified as 64-year-old Wilson McKay by his widow, Margaret Campbell.

While that case has not been officially deemed a homicide, the homicide unit is investigating — which could mean there were two consecutive weekends with multiple homicides.

Last year, there were 22 homicides in Winnipeg — but Murray said this year seems more on track to reach 2011’s record of 41.

"We’re certainly headed to that amount. We haven’t hit that amount yet, so I don’t want to speculate on what the summer’s going to bring," Murray said. "The nature of homicides is that they’re very random. You can’t predict them."

caitlyn.gowriluk@freepress.mb.ca

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