Trouble common at site of deaths: tenants, neighbours

Residents of Winnipeg's Wolseley neighbourhood are struggling to understand what led to a violent incident in a local apartment building that resulted in the deaths of two residents — one killed by police.

Residents of Winnipeg's Wolseley neighbourhood say problems were not uncommon at a local apartment building where police killed a knife-wieldingman who had attacked other tenants, killing one of them.

A tenant in Madison Memorial Lodge on Evanson Street fatally stabbed one man and wounded another in the building's communal kitchen Tuesday morning, police said. Officers shot and killed the suspect after he threatened them, they said.

Madison Memorial Lodge, a residence run by a not-for-profit corporation, provides low-cost room and board to about 100 people, including seniors and people with mental, physical or other disabilities.

Madison tenant Henry Marsden told CBC News said there can be some frightening times in the building, especially around when some residents receive social assistance payments.

"Cheque days, weekends, that's when they start drinking here, when they get their cheque," he said.

"There's usually always something happening from one person to the next, like everybody's trying to get at each other about something," said another tenant, Ray Grainger.

"If somebody doesn't agree with what somebody's saying to you, they'll call each other names, they'll hit each other in the cafeteria.

"Everybody in there wants power… the people that live there. People that are working in there, of course they want to have power over us, but even the residents that stay in there, they're trying to get power over one another."

'It's no life at all'

Neighbours in the area are familiar with the building and its tenants.

"You usually find half a dozen guys sitting out front, sitting on the bench or on the stoop," said Vanessa Collins, who can see the building from her door. "They're usually very quiet, never had a problem with them."

"I live at the corner by the park here, Vimy Ridge, and out my window I see these older guys, they stroll around the park muttering to themselves," said Brent Alvarez.

"You see them out here, it's like it's no life at all. They just hover around the parking lot, walk up to the park and back and shuffle around and give each other cigarettes. It's really, really sad."

Richard Rawluk, who has lived in the neighbourhood for several years, said it was "just a matter of time" until a serious incident happened at the building.

"They're always fighting outside amongst each other," he said. "Any given night at 2, 3 in the morning you're waking up because cop cars are there, or ambulances."

More support needed: researcher

Jino Distasio, director of the University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies, said the problems at the building were "nothing new."

"It's really sad that we've got another two dead bodies in the inner city and more people are living in fear every day of their lives," said Distasio, who has extensively studied rooming houses and similar residential situations in Winnipeg.

The building's residents may have needed more social supports, such as trained staff, Distasio suggested.

"It's sounding from the residents that those services aren't there and the supports aren't there," he said.

"Maybe that's the challenge right there and I'm not sure how we address that— do we need more staff in these places? Do we need a higher level of security?

"It gets really complicated. In a place like this, when you've got 100 people with different needs, whether it's health or mental health, whether it's parole or other circumstances, it really takes a convergence of many organizations to help these people, and that's a big challenge."

It's time for officials to assess the support situation for people who live in facilities like Madison Memorial Lodge and fix the problems that lead to violence, Distasio said.

"From what I've seen over the last few years, I think there's something wrong with the system," he said.

"If the model's not working, then we need to fix it, and I think we need to do something now… We need to keep asking questions and hold people accountable if we could have avoided something like this."

Directors of the Madison Memorial Lodge did not return calls from the CBC.