Popular bodybuilder killed in Winnipeg nightclub stabbing

A 24-year-old man was killed in Winnipeg's Empire Cabaret early Sunday, just weeks after a shooting at the same Exchange District nightclub injured four patrons.

Second violent incident in as many months

The father of a Winnipeg man killed in a fight in a nightclub over the weekend is calling for tighter security in local bars.

Jeff Engen, 24, was stabbed in the upper body after a fight broke out at the Empire Cabaret in Winnipeg's Exchange District just before 2 a.m. CT Sunday.

Police have not made any arrests or identified any suspects.

Darrell Engen, father of the victim,said his son and a friend had stopped in at the Empire Cabaret for a drink before meeting their girlfriends at another club.They never made it.

"In my younger day, I used to go out to the bars and stuff. There would be the odd fight, there was just fists, that's about it," he said.

"You look at it today, it's guns and knives. I don't understand how people can be so vicious. You know, like, what do you have a knife for? To scare the person? Well, it got out of hand."

Engen said his son, a bodybuilder, had a bright future ahead of him. He was enrolled in a welding course at Red River College and hoped to open his own business one day.

"No matter where we went, someone knew him. And they were nice to him," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. "He was very popular."

An autopsy is being carried out on his son's body, so Engen said it was not yet clear when funeral services will take place.

'A lot of blood'

Roger Regnier, a first-aid instructor who wasin the club with his girlfriend at the time, provided medical assistance to the victim.

"As I walked over, I noticed the guy was lying on the ground and there was a lot of blood," Regnier said.

"I called 911, spent a couple of minutes on 911, and then somebody said that he stopped breathing, so [I] pulled out my pocket mask, put on my gloves and started CPR."

Regnier continued CPR until paramedics arrived.However, the young man died in hospital.

The stabbing came less than a month after four people were shot in the same nightclub. Management at the club had said security was increased after the shooting.

Engen wondered how the knife that killed his son got past security.

"It seems like anybody can go into this bar, plus they have the patios— even if you do get by the security, you can go on the patios for a cigarette and have a weapon passed through the fence. So that's a bit of a joke," he said.

Bar staff has claimed patrons returning from the patio are checked with a metal detector wand. They have refused to comment on the weekend killing.

Metal detectors in use

Regnierconfirmed thatmetal-detecting wandswere in use Saturday nightand people were being patted down before they entered.

"I figured if it happened a couple of weeks ago and they bumped up security, it'd be a safe place to go— probably the safest place to go.And no. It turned out to be a bad choice," he said.

"It could have just as well happened at another bar. It's one of those random things," he added, but noted he would probably not return to the club.

"I have a little girl at home, and the only thing I can think of is getting home to her."

Neighbourhood safe, insists BIZ

In the wake of the recent shooting, bar management blamed police for turning down their repeated requests to haveofficers on patrol inside the club.

Police characterized the club's accusation as "ludicrous," suggesting the Empire was responsible for hiring its own private security guards if it was having problems.

After Sunday's stabbing, police suggested the club may not be safe.

"I think that just the recent releases that we've made kind of shows that … possibly this establishment isn't the safest nightclub in the city of Winnipeg," Sgt. Kelly Dennison said.

Brian Timmerman, director of operations for the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone, was stunned to learn of the latest incident in what he considers a safe area.

"I couldn't believe the coincidence, that it happened at the same location again, and so close together," he told CBC News onMonday morning.

A 41-year-old woman and three men— one age 35 and two others age 32— were injured when someone opened fire in the Empire early on Oct. 21.

At the time, police said they believed someone had pulled out a gun and fired several shots during a fight between two groups of men. None of the victims was believed to be involved in the altercation.

Last week, police said they were looking for a 22-year-old man inthe shooting.

Timmerman insisted theneighbourhood is safe despite the recent violence, noting that thousands of people go to the Exchange District every weekend without encountering problems.

"What you're seeing nowadays is we're still getting the fights in the bars and outside the bars, but there's a certain element of our society that are so determined to escalate it by bringing in these weapons," he said.