An early morning homicide is sure to spark the debate regarding downtown safety.
On July 5, 2016 at approximately 3:50 am, emergency personnel responded to the area of Portage Avenue and Donald Street regarding a report of an injured individual.
The victim was located and transported to hospital but later died from injuries sustained.
Police declined to release the age or gender of the victim.
(Evidence at the scene suggests the victim was male.)
Members of the Homicide Unit continue to investigate.
The incident caused the shut down of Portage Avenue between Hargrave Street and Donald Street causing major early morning traffic delays.
Police are asking anyone with information regarding the ongoing investigation to contact members of the Homicide Unit at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
The victim killed in this incident represents the 14th reported homicide victim this year.
Last year, the 14th homicide was recorded on June 12th.
It was an inconvenient crime to be sure.
Inconvenient because it came at a time when Police Chief Devon Clunis was set to lead a parade from the Public Safety Building through the downtown to the new Police Headquarters.
“Due to the ongoing homicide investigation in the area of Portage Avenue and Donald Street, the march to Headquarters and ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open Headquarters has been postponed,” read a hastily released Police media advisory.
It’s tough to lead a parade past the aftermath of a grotesquely bloody murder scene.
It’s even tougher to continue to trumpet downtown safety in the face of such a clearly violent killing – directly in front of the MTS Centre no less.
That’s a debate for another day.
The Crime Scene
A few things struck me as I watched the CSI investigators process the crime scene.
This first thing that occurred to me was I only recognized one of the Identification Unit Investigators working the scene, a hazard of being out of the game I surmised.
Homicide Unit Investigators depend on Identification Unit Investigators to meticulously process the crime scene and to give them highly insightful interpretations of crime scene evidence.
Members from these entities work extremely close together.
Every now and then Identification Unit Investigators find the smoking gun that essentially solves the case. It may come in the way of a fingerprint, hair, fibres, DNA or some other form of high value evidence.
A skilled CSI investigator is an incredible asset to any murder case.
Homicide Investigators especially appreciate them.
The second thing that occurred to me was how important it is for experienced police officers to pass their knowledge to the younger generation of Law Enforcement Officers.
I knew the mentors who shaped these young fresh-faced CSI Investigators. The men and women who imparted the knowledge required to work this kind of horrific crime scene.
I think they would have been proud to stand outside the yellow tape and watch them do their work.
I felt the same way as I watched the young Homicide Detectives doing their thing.
Police Departments tend to place little value on institutional knowledge.
The people who do the heavy lifting know its value.
The Tragedy of Homicide
While I don’t know the identity of the victim, the tragedy of homicide slapped me in the face as I observed the CSI Investigators process crime scene evidence.
I watched as the officers bagged blood soaked running shoes, pants and other clothing but it was a photograph visible inside the (victim’s) wallet that struck me.
It had been placed in a highly prominent place.
That told me something.
It reminded me that a family got the worst kind of news they can get today.
I suspect the lives of the people depicted in the photograph will be forever altered.
I’ve seen it.
I’ve lived it.
Solvency Rate – 90%
Rest assured members of the WPS Homicide Unit will work the case leaving no stone unturned.
They’ll search for witnesses and canvass the entire area in search of video evidence to advance the case.
The next of kin will be notified.
The nameless victim will be named.
The cause of death will be released after autopsy.
The investigators won’t sleep much in the next 24 – 48 hours and will be relentless in their pursuit of the killer (s).
It won’t matter if the victim was homeless, a drug addict or gang banger.
It won’t matter if the victim was Black, White, Asian, Polish, Ukrainian or Indigenous.
Police in Winnipeg solve 9 out of every 10 homicides and have done so for almost two decades.
You don’t solve that many killings by being selective regarding who you choose to fight for.
2016 Homicide Stats – Indigenous Over-Representation
Of the prior thirteen (13) homicide victims reported in Winnipeg this year, ten (10) appear to be of Indigenous origin.
That works out to approximately 77%.
Of the twenty-one (21) accused killers charged in the City of Winnipeg this year, a total of nineteen (19) appear to be of Indigenous origin.
That works out to approximately 90%.
(Note: one homicide case involving an Indigenous victim remains unsolved.)
When you consider the fact Indigenous people only make up approximately 4.3% of the Canadian population, these statistics become even more disturbing.