Winnipeg dad calls on Bowman to address violent crime after stepson suffers horrific injuries in robbery

The stepdad of a 19-year-old man who suffered horrific life-altering injuries during a random robbery in Central Park wants the amount of violent crime in the city to become an election issue in Winnipeg.

'Every time he looks in the mirror he has to relive this night,' stepfather says

Mike Enns' stepson was the victim of a horrific assault that happened in Central Park this month when he was walking his friend home after a late night meal. Enns' stepson suffered life-altering injuries to his face after being stabbed repeatedly. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Mike Enns wasn't prepared for what he'd see when he arrived at the hospital.

His stepson, who CBC has agreed not to identify to protect his privacy, was the victim of a brutal robbery in Winnipeg's Central Park in the early morning hours of Aug. 18. He was walking his friend home after a late-night dinner downtown.

"It's shocking and certainly our son has life-altering injuries that he will have to live with the rest of his life," Enns said. "Every time he looks in the mirror, he has to relive this night for the rest of his life."

Police tape off an area near Central Park last spring after a 22-year-old man died after being stabbed. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

His stepson was stabbed and slashed repeatedly in the face, leaving horrific injuries, while his friend, a 21-year-old woman, was able to free herself from the attackers.

Enns said they saw two men approaching them with large knives near the children's playground, but it was too late to get away. The attack, which happened just days after community activists held a rally to protest crime in the park, was so brutal that Enns said it was difficult to recognize his stepson.

'No-go zones disconcerting' 

His stepson was rushed to hospital in critical condition and spent days in intensive care. Enns doesn't know how he made it out alive.

The attack and another robbery that followed prompted Winnipeg police to issue a warning to the public to avoid visiting the park at night while alone.

"To me, I didn't really think that was a solution to a problem. It was, to me, quite indicative of the fact that the police had no solution for this," Enns said.

"It's very disconcerting to live in a place like Winnipeg and know that there are parts of your city that are no-go zones. I don't find that acceptable."

The mayor’s office said in a statement that Bowman and the police are working to increase public safety. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Frustrated about not hearing from the mayor or anyone at city hall, Enns penned an emotionally charged letter to Mayor Brian Bowman, whom he voted for in the last election.

"I didn't think that was acceptable because it's in times like this that the citizens look for answers and leadership and strength, and we hadn't heard anything," Enns said.

In addition to his stepson's near-death experience, city police responded to eight stabbings in five days, a random sexual assault on a river trail in broad daylight and a Winnipeg Transit supervisor being attacked.

He argued in the letter that Winnipeg is in crisis.

"Yet you have said nothing and you have done nothing," Enns said of Bowman.

Read the letter penned to the mayor:

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He added that Winnipeg doesn't need a "social media mayor," taking a shot at Bowman's reputation for posting photos. 

"The one selfie we have yet to see is you standing alone in Central Park at night," he wrote.

Bowman outlines public safety strategy

Enns got a call a few hours after he sent the letter to Bowman and the media on Monday.

"From father to father, we had a productive discussion," Enns said.

The mayor's office said in a statement that Bowman outlined some of the strategies he and the police are working on to improve public safety.

Bowman's spokesperson said that includes increases to the police budget, more foot patrols downtown, better lighting in areas known to be high risk for crime and improved video surveillance for police.

Call for night patrols in Central Park

Enns called those strategies stopgaps and he wants violent crime to become an election issue. He would also like to see some kind of night patrol in the Central Park area, with police officers, cadets or private security.

He said he hopes to get justice for his stepson through the courts and he's grateful to the Winnipeg police officers who found and arrested two suspects.

His stepson is at home recovering.

"The police statement that he's got life-altering injuries is very true. He's got a long road ahead of him, but he's incredibly positive."

About the Author

Austin Grabish

Reporter

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg​ where he files for TV, web and radio. ​​Born and raised in Manitoba, Austin has had an itch for news since he was young. He landed his first byline when he was just 18. Before joining CBC, he reported for several outlets with work running across the country.​ Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca