Police have identified the victim of a brutal downtown killing.
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 man.
The victim was transported to hospital in critical condition and later died of his injuries.
He was identified as Cyril Quentin Weenusk (26) of Oxford House, Manitoba.
Media reports indicate Weenusk travelled to Winnipeg to provide a medical escort for his father who is fighting cancer.
Weenusk was a father of four (4) young boys.
He was the 14th reported homicide victim in Winnipeg this year.
All but two cases have been solved.
Solvency rate – 85%.
The Crime Scene
When I arrived at the crime scene it was clear an extremely violent event had occurred. The amount of blood loss suggested the victim had been stabbed or severely beaten.
Police subsequently confirmed no weapon had been used in the killing and informed the media they were pursuing three or more suspects.
Unfortunately, these kind of cases are not rare in Winnipeg.
A large pack of predators attack and overwhelm a defenceless victim and proceed to stomp, kick and pound the person into oblivion. The killers feed off each others violence and adrenaline fuels them to exceed grotesque limits of brutality.
The crime scene told the story.
Pools of crimson red blood stained the sidewalk and poured down the face of the curb onto the street below. High velocity blood spatter appeared to be projected on the streets, a light standard and an adjacent bus shelter.
There was much rage in this killing.
The victim had been rushed to hospital hours earlier but his clothing remained at the crime scene, mounded in a pile on the sidewalk, left by the Paramedics who desperately tried to save his life.
As I stood behind the yellow tape, I took aim with my camera pointing it at the Crime Scene Investigators as they prepared to collect and remove the evidence. It’s a meticulous process that requires thought, skill and a high degree of expertise.
Once the scene was properly photographed the collection process began.
The first item to be removed was a black sneaker with a white soul heavily stained with dark red blood. There was no sign of a second shoe and I wondered where it might have gotten to.
The shoe was carefully placed into a brown paper bag and secured as evidence.
(Police use brown paper bags to secure wet or blood soaked evidence as the paper allows for air circulation. Plastic bags cause these kind of exhibits to grow mould, bacteria or otherwise deteriorate.)
The next item to be removed was a black and orange nylon Adidas gear backpack with nylon draw strings.
The bag appeared to be secure as the draw strings were pulled tight.
(This supports the theory the killing was not motivated by robbery as Police suggest.)
Once the backpack was bagged the CSI officer picked up what appeared to be a blood soaked grey hoody.
This piece of clothing looked like it had been ripped or torn into tatters. It’s quite possible the EMS workers used scissors to cut this item off the victim during their life saving efforts.
The hoody was carefully removed and bagged.
The next item to be seized was undoubtedly critical to the investigation.
It was a pair of blood stained grey pants.
What would make a pair of blood soaked grey pants so critical to the investigation?
It wasn’t the pants that was so important, it was wallet with the silver chain attached that was so critical.
That wallet might provide police with essential information to identify the victim.
According to police, identifying Weenusk was a challenge for them because he wasn’t from the City.
My heart sank when the investigator opened that wallet.
The first thing visible was a prominently placed family photograph. That piece of evidence made it clear, this man loved and was loved.
It was a hard thing to see.
A few seconds later another critical piece of the puzzle fell into place.
A photo ID card.
Whatever challenge police had in identifying Weenusk was surely over.
There it was, in plain sight, a face and a name.
In that instant, Forensic Investigators and Homicide Detectives learned who they were fighting for.
Cyril Quentin Weenusk a 26-year-old man from Oxford House, Manitoba.
A father of four (4) young boys.
“He was a good guy all around, there aren’t enough words to say about him except that he was a good man, a good father to his kids,” Weenusk’s brother Ralf Weenusk said in an interview.
The investigation into his brother’s death is in good hands.
The search for his killers continues…
Downtown Safety – The Debate
According to Public Information Officer Constable Rob Carver no weapons were used the killing and Weenusk did not know his attackers.
“It looks like a chance encounter or chance meeting on the street,” he said.
Carver went on to say the public shouldn’t have concerns about downtown safety;
“We really wanted to get (the information) out as soon as possible to indicate that this was not a random event, that this was an altercation between some people and that while this is a tragic and a very violent event, it isn’t the sort of incident that would necessarily alter the average person’s perception of safety in this city or in the downtown area,” he added.
I respectfully disagree.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines random as, “A haphazard course, without definite aim, direction rule or method.”
The attack on Cyril Weenusk was undeniably random.
He didn’t know his attackers and only crossed paths with them in a chance encounter.
In my mind, that meets the definition of a random event.
Random violence is a frightening thing and should be a concern to all of us.
When I raised the issue of downtown safety in a recent article I anticipated some pushback.
“Oh please people, safe downtown? It’s almost 4 am!! This does NOT deem downtown UNSAFE. If you’re wandering the streets in the middle of the night….shits gonna happen!” one reader wrote.
If you follow the logic I suppose Weenusk had it coming to him, the nerve, staying out until 4 am and walking in the downtown area no less. He should have known better.
This is precisely the attitude we must change.
It’s called victim blaming.
“While this is a tragic and a very violent event, it isn’t the sort of incident that would necessarily alter the average person’s perception of safety in this city or in the downtown area.”
So who is the “average person” Constable Carver is referring to?
I suppose the average person is the law-abiding citizen who comes downtown to work from 9 to 5 and then jets to the suburbs before darkness when the street urchins and criminal element arrives to work the night-shift.
Herein lies the problem of declaring downtown Winnipeg safe, especially in light of this brutally violent killing.
In order to declare downtown a safe and secure area, that security and safety has to extend beyond the daylight hours.
Downtown safety has to be a 24 / 7 proposition.
That is not the current reality in downtown Winnipeg.
For as long as I can remember, Downtown Winnipeg has been a crime challenged area. It’s always been a hot bed of criminal and gang activity, specifically drug trafficking, petty thefts and strong-arm robberies.
I don’t believe that reality has significantly changed.
You don’t have to believe me.
I’ll leave the last word for a front line police officer I met at the crime scene who lamented,
“It seems to me the violence in this City just keeps getting worse and worse.”
Downtown Crime – Recent Incidents
- July 12, 2016, 5:20 pm, a 46 year old female assaulted in the area of the 300 block of Portage Avenue. Prior to the assault the victim observed the suspect performing an indecent act. The suspect attacked her when she indicated she was calling Police. Shortly thereafter, additional groping incidents and indecent acts were reported in the same area.
- July 5, 2016 – 3:50 am – Cyril Weenusk (26) beaten to death during random attack near Donald Street and Portage Avenue.
- May 27, 2016 – 11:30 pm – a twenty-one year old man attacked at Donald Street and Portage Avenue suffered multiple upper body injuries.
- May 14, 2016 – 11 pm – a man is attacked, pepper sprayed and stabbed in the 500 block of Portage Avenue near the U of W.
- April 13, 2016 – 7:30 pm – Off duty police officers make arrest in downtown area of suspect for serious sexual assault.
- January 19, 2016 – 8:30 pm – a twenty year old man stabbed inside the sky walk to the MTS Centre. A 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged in the incident. The youth was linked to another attack in the downtown days earlier.
Downtown Crime – Historical Incidents
- July 17, 2015 – 3 am – two men stabbed near intersection of Carlton Street and Portage Ave
- April 5, 2013 – Police release a Community Alert warning the public of three (3) sexual assaults and an indecent act in the downtown area. Strong arm robberies were also highlighted as a concern.
- April 2, 2013 – 4 pm – Nigel Dixon (20) shot to death in broad daylight in gang related attack near Ellice Avenue and Langside Street.
- March 16, 2011 – 9 pm – Abdul Jemei (22) stabbed to death near west end of Portage Place.
*Incidents are only a snapshot of significant incidents based on limited research and institutional knowledge