The latest homicide — a shooting which started inside an Exchange District nightclub — is the 38th of the year and police admit that the close-to-record number of slayings is taking a toll on officers.
A man in his 30s was found dead after officers rushed to a call at Citizen nightclub in the 200 block of Bannatyne Avenue at 1:30 a.m., Winnipeg Police Service Const. Rob Carver said during a news conference Saturday.
Carver said a second man in his 30s was shot in the lower body and was taken to hospital in stable condition. Police haven’t made any arrests and they aren’t releasing the victims’ names.
"At least part of the shooting was inside," Carver said. "There were lots of people there, but no one else was injured.
"Unfortunately nightclubs are places where young people congregate and have access to alcohol... and drugs.
"These can make for potentially violent situations." No one else in the nightclub was injured, he said.
Police are asking anyone who was in the nightclub and has cellphone video to contact the homicide unit at 204-986-6598 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
But Carver said Winnipeg police officers, from general patrol to homicide to identification to others, are being affected both physically and emotionally with the number of slayings this year — three in just the past week — as well as with other violent crime in the city.
The recent victims include 14-year-old Jakira Eastman-Moore, who was stabbed to death at a house party in Tyndall Park last Saturday. Three-year-old Hunter Haze Straight-Smith, who was stabbed while he slept on Wednesday, died on Saturday after being taken off life support. And, last Sunday, someone fired a shotgun inside a North End home and hurt four people, including an infant.
"I think at some point it is just impossible to continue the sort of pace we’ve done without it starting to affect people on an individual and on a team level," Carver said.
"I was running into officers (on Saturday) still working evenings — evenings finish early hours and hours ago. Night crews are still here and they’re going to be here for awhile. That takes a toll. It takes a toll on investigators as well.
"I trust my colleagues are all doing very, very, very professional work, but I would be not be inaccurate if I said this wasn’t starting to impact on WPS personnel."
Carver said it’s not just police who have been affected by the high number of homicides.
"People in the community, who may not even have known the individual, but live there, are traumatized when they know that somebody has been killed on their block, or their street, or their community," he said.
"I think it touches everyone who hears about it in different ways — I think it touches everyone in the city. No one wants to think that, I’ve been a Winnipegger my entire life, that this isn’t a great place to live, but you know, we’ve got to address the fact there are (39) homicides so far and it’s the second day of November.
"It touches everyone, but in different ways for sure."
Police were still on scene investigating outside Citizen nightclub Saturday morning. Identification officers had placed five evidence markers beside an orange car on the street between William and Bannatyne avenues. A piece of clothing could be seen in the pavement beside the car’s wheel.
Other evidence markers could be seen on various areas of the street, in the adjacent bicycle path, and on the east sidewalk.
Violent crime rates in Winnipeg remain some of the highest in the country, and the city is approaching a record-high number of homicides. In 2011, the city recorded 41 homicides. That year, five people died in a rooming house fire that was deliberately set. Violent crime has been on the rise during the past five years in Winnipeg, according to Statistics Canada’s crime severity index, but it is still lower than it was a decade ago.
— with files from Katie May
Updated on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 12:01 PM CDT: Writethru after police news conference
4:08 PM: Adds photos
6:01 PM: Updated
11:35 PM: Edited