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Insp. Brian Cyncora speaks outside the police mobile command unit on Selkirk Avenue.

WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Insp. Brian Cyncora speaks outside the police mobile command unit on Selkirk Avenue.

It's an area that's witnessed aggressive drunks, horrific beatings and a man being lit on fire.

Now, residents of this corner of the North End wait for police to nab a masked killer responsible for yet another trauma in their midst. On Tuesday, they welcomed a beefed-up officer presence with open arms.

As the hunt continued for the person who killed two men and injured a teen girl on Saturday, William Whyte residents eagerly awaited news of an arrest.

By late afternoon Tuesday, a large trailer housing a police mobile command centre was parked near Selkirk Avenue and Andrews Street.

Police moved additional resources into the North End in light of the fatal shootings of 52-year-old Ian MacDonald and 35-year-old Tommy Beardy, in hopes door-to-door canvassing and street and foot patrols will garner tips that lead to the killer.

"We want to uncover what's going on," said Insp. Brian Cyncora, commander of the North End officers. "We're going to sustain this effort for a while.

"We really don't have a conclusion, deadline or date on this thing. We really want to try and solve these crimes."

Police continued to pursue leads in what Cyncora called "quite a substantial area," adding the number of both uniformed officers and plainclothes investigators increased significantly.

"We do believe that we can solve these crimes -- and that the answers do lie within the community," he said.

The shootings happened within a two-kilometre radius, within a 45-minute time period.

Police have implored the public for information related to the shootings of 13-year-old Samantha Stevenson on Stella Walk, as well as the fatal Dufferin Avenue and Boyd Avenue shootings. A masked man in dark clothing shot Stevenson after asking the girl and her friends if they wanted to buy drugs.

The suspect then fled on a bike, witnesses said.

Selkirk Avenue store owner Aruna Kanchan said it's a struggle to get police to respond to petty crime complaints. She said more officers in the neighbourhood is a welcome change.

"How are we safe here?" said Kanchan, a petite woman who stood behind the front counter of Discount Everything at 553 Selkirk Ave.

She said in the 18 months she's run the store, she's had to deal with drunken customers and police haven't always showed up after she's called.

She said due to a "few mean people" she's had to deal with a number of smashed windows.

Police haven't released the number of officers deployed to the North End since the shooting, but indicated officers from the tactical support team and street crime unit have shifted into the area while they search for the killer.

Gus Damianakos, owner of Windmill Lunch at 518 Selkirk Ave., said the additional police resources weren't needed, at least as far as he's concerned. In the 40 years he's run the business, he said, he's had "no troubles," except for a drunken customer who broke through his door and wanted some coffee.

Anyone with information on the shootings can call police at 986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 786-TIPS (8477).

In April 2009, police moved 17 officers into the North End to deal with what they anticipated would be an increase in calls for service over the summer.

 

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca