Winnipeg police have charged a 33-year-old man for repeatedly stabbing a three-year-old boy after assaulting the child’s mother in a fit of rage following an argument.
Daniel Jensen faces one count of attempted murder and one count of assault causing bodily harm, as well as seven charges for breaching court orders. He’s been detained in custody. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.
The child, three-year-old Hunter Haze Straight-Smith, has undergone multiple blood transfusions since being rushed to hospital on the verge of death in the early morning hours of Wednesday, family told the Free Press.
Hunter's family updated the Free Press about the young boy's condition again late Thursday night saying the child has suffered severe brain damage and is expected to be taken off life-support in the coming days. As of Friday afternoon, he was still on life-support.
Jensen is the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Hunter’s mother, Clarice Smith.
In July, Jensen was charged with assaulting Smith with a weapon and uttering threats. He was released on bail and a no-contact order was issued barring him from being with, or contacting, Smith.
Police say Jensen and Smith were at an undisclosed location on Main Street when the two got into an argument.
"They had this argument that escalated to her being assaulted and it kind of carried from there. This individual then left that location without the mother, attended the address on Pritchard Avenue where I believe some family members were at, entered that residence and attacked the child," Winnipeg Police Service Const. Jay Murray said.
Police say Jensen — who has multiple past convictions for assault — repeatedly stabbed the child. At the time of the attack, Hunter is believed to have been sleeping at a rooming house at 390 Pritchard Ave. where his family was staying.
"I think it’s inconceivable that someone would target an innocent child, probably one trying to sleep at that time of night... I think a lot of people are having a hard time grasping that someone would be capable of doing something like this," Murray said.
Area residents told the Free Press they awoke to screaming around 2:30 a.m. and soon after police cruisers and ambulances descended on the scene. One witness said they saw a man flee from the rooming house around that time.
"I feel for my colleagues. They attended a scene where they found a child, a young child, an innocent child with catastrophic injuries. The first thing they did was apply emergency first aid, I believe some of that includes CPR, on essentially what I think appeared to be a lifeless child," Murray said.
"I think it’s inconceivable that someone would target an innocent child, probably one trying to sleep at that time of night... I think a lot of people are having a hard time grasping that someone would be capable of doing something like this." – Winnipeg Police Service Const. Jay Murray
"That can be very tough on these officers. At the time, they knew they have a job to do, but as they decompress and move away from this incident it can be challenging."
Jensen was taken into custody Wednesday after he was spotted walking in the area of McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue.
Police say it’s too early to comment on whether drugs or alcohol are believed to have been a factor in the attack, but that it is something investigators will look into. However, Hunter’s family told the Free Press Jensen was drunk at the time of the assault.
The vicious attack on Hunter marked the third time in little more than two days that a child was a victim of violence in Winnipeg.
On Saturday, 14-year-old Jakira Eastman-Moore was stabbed to death at a Halloween house party on the 100 block of Kinver Avenue. An 18-year-old young woman was also stabbed, but is expected to live.
Police later charged a pair of sisters—one aged 16, the other 18—with second-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the case.
The following afternoon, an infant was injured in a "shotgun attack" on the 400 block of Flora Avenue. Three adults were also injured in the shooting. All four victims are expected to live and no charges have been announced in connection with the case.
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 Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 10:35 PM CDT: Updates story.
11:49 PM: Updates victim's condition.