Edmonton police are investigating after a 38-year-old man was fatally stabbed early Sunday. ((Andrea Huncar/CBC))

Edmonton police are asking for the public's help as they investigate the death of a 38-year-old man who was stabbed early Sunday.

Police say the man, whose name has not been released, was trying to help two friends who were being assaulted.

Police say it started in the area of 99 Street and 82 Avenue at about 1 a.m. MT when a group of men surrounded two men who were walking home. They demanded money and assaulted the pair, police say.

Police say it appears three men from the group then followed the pair for several blocks, until friends of the two men came to help.

One of the assaulted men was stabbed and died of his injuries.

"All of the victims were innocent parties to this unprovoked attack," said Det. Bill Clark. "There is a possibility this group of suspects is connected to other crimes of this nature in this area in the past."

Anyone with information is asked to call Edmonton police at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

"It only takes that one person or phone call to lead us in the right direction in an investigation," Clark said.

Neighbour heard scuffle, shouting

A woman who lives nearby told CBC News she awoke just after 1 a.m. MT to shouting and the sounds of a scuffle outside her bedroom window.

"I heard one voice very clearly yell, 'Leave him alone,'" said the woman, who did not want her identity revealed.

Three suspects are described as:

  • Caucasian male, around five feet eight inches tall, approximately 20 years old, chubby with short dark hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt, light-coloured baggy shorts and white high-top running shoes.
  • Caucasian male, around five feet eight inches tall, between 18 and 20 years old, thin with short, dark hair. He was wearing black baggy shorts and carrying a backpack.
  • Caucasian male, tallest of the group, between 18 and 20 years old, possibly wearing a leather jacket.

She said after hearing several people speaking a foreign language, someone said in English, "Somebody help us. He's been stabbed."

The woman called 911.

She said it's unsettling to have something like this to happen so close to home.

"It's startling, it's disquieting," she said.

"We do live near Whyte Avenue. There have certainly been incidents, you know, fights and this sort of thing, in the past. It was Saturday night, it was a warm night, and one of the reasons I that didn't jump up immediately out of bed was we have had incidents … happen before."

Neighbour Mel Krysko said he was woken up by police at around 3 a.m. MT.

Krysko didn't see or hear anything, but said he was shocked to hear someone was killed nearby.

"It shouldn't happen to anybody, especially — for what? Maybe a bottle of booze or a couple bucks or something? It's stupid for somebody to lose their life over that," he said.

With files from Andrea Huncar