Random Killings Raise Public Safety Concern

WPS PIO Constable Jay Murray (Photo JGJ)

The random nature of two Winnipeg homicide cases should be ringing alarm bells at City Hall and Police HQ.

On Saturday, April 27, 2019, the Winnipeg Police Service issued a press release announcing arrests in the cases.

The release confirmed the victim’s and their alleged killers were not previously known to each other.

The first case involved the March 16, 2019 killing of John Robert Gabriel (38) of Winnipeg who was stabbed to death in the 100 block of Selkirk Avenue.

Police report they arrested a suspect on April 26, 2019 in the Regent Avenue area of the City.

Investigators believe the suspect and the victim met in the area of Salter Street and Selkirk Avenue at which time Gabriel was stabbed. Police report it appears robbery was a motive in the killing and confirmed the suspect and victim were not previously known to each.

Police charged Christopher Tristan Keith Atkinson (22) with the following offences;

  • 2nd degree murder
  • breach of probation

Atkinson was detained in custody.

Gabriel was the 9th reported homicide victim of the year in Winnipeg.

Police Working Crime Scene (CTV News)

The second case involved the April 18, 2019 killing of Joselito Fernandez (53) of Winnipeg, who was shot to death in the area of the 1000 block of Selkirk Avenue.

Police report they arrested a suspect on April 26, 2019 in the area of Redwood Avenue & Battery Street.

Investigators believe the victim had walked along the rail line when he was confronted at gunpoint by a 16-year-old male suspect. The victim was shot and robbed of his property after which time the suspect fled from the scene.

Police confirmed the victim and his alleged killer were not previously known to each other.

Police charged a 16-year-old male of Winnipeg with the following offences;

  • 2nd degree murder
  • Fail to comply with probation order
  • Possess firearm contrary to prohibition order x 2

The youth was detained in custody.

Fernandez was the 13th reported homicide victim of the year in Winnipeg.

Insider Commentary;

The homicide count for Winnipeg this year remains at 13 reported cases.

In 2018, the 13th homicide of the year was recorded on September 22nd.

James Turner – Twitter

With the resolution of these crimes, the WPS Homicide Unit has solved a total of 11 of the 13 reported cases – solvency rate 84.61%.

The fact that both of the victims of these killings did not know the perpetrator of their crimes is disconcerting.

That means the killings were random.

The fact a killing is “random” should elevate concerns regarding public safety, a fact not lost on Winnipeg crime reporter James Turner, who described the murders as “alarming” on social media.

When killings such as these are random, it’s clear anyone could have been a victim of these crimes.

As a side bar, its interesting to note both alleged killers were charged with breach probation, which tells us they’ve both been before the criminal courts in the past.

The fact the youth had a firearms prohibition also provides a degree of insight.

The youth charged in this incident is the 2nd young offender charged with a homicide related offence this year.

A fifteen (15)  year old male young offender was charged with accessory after the fact to murder & drug offences in connection with the March 8, 2019 blunt force killing of Warren Stewart Nabess (52) of Winnipeg.

Police referred to the murder as a “crack shack” killing.

Youth Involved Homicide

In 2018, the WPS charged a total of three (3) young offenders with homicide-related offences.

The youngest offender was 13 years of age while the other two offenders were 15 years of age.

All three offenders were male.

  • Two 17-year-old male youths were victims of homicide last year.

In 2017, the WPS charged a total of nine (9) young offenders with homicide-related offenses that ran the gamut from 1st-degree murder to 2nd-degree murder to manslaughter.

A total of 7 male and 2 female offenders were charged in the killings.

The accused killers ranged in age from 14 – 17 years.

(Both female young offenders were 14 years of age.)

In 2016, no young offenders were charged with murder.

2019 Homicide Statistics
Manner of Death
  • Shooting – 6
  • Stabbing – 4
  • Blunt Force Trauma – 1
  • Not Disclosed – 2
Gender of Victims;
  • Male – 11
  • Female – 2

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