Teenager killed in Pritchard Avenue homicide was caught up in drugs and gang life, says mom

A 19-year-old man was shot and killed in the front yard of a Pritchard Avenue home on Monday morning. His death is the 30th homicide in Winnipeg this year.

Darlyus McKay's death is the 30th homicide in 2019 in the city of Winnipeg

Darlyus McKay, 19, was found dead outside a home in the 600 block of Pritchard Avenue on Monday morning. (Submitted by Tina McKay)

Winnipeg has seen its 30th homicide of 2019, after the body of 19-year-old Darlyus McKay was found in the front yard of a Pritchard Avenue home on Monday morning.

Police responded to reports of an injured man around 9 a.m. Monday, outside what neighbours have called a "known drug house" in the 600 block of Pritchard Avenue.

His mother, Tina McKay, was told by police that her son had been shot,she said to CBC News. She was dismayed to learn how and where he died, but said she knows the effects that can follow when someone gets caught up in the drug game.

"It's just like digging up your own grave and next thing you know, you're in it," said McKay, who added she had seen her son less than 12 hours earlier.

"This is my baby. I just had to come and see where it happened," said the mother of three. "Words can't even explain how I feel."

Police responded to calls about an injured man lying in the yard of a home on Pritchard Avenue, between McKenzie and McGregor streets, at 9:25 a.m. Monday, a news release says. Police released few details, but did confirm they are investigating the death as a homicide.

Tina McKay speaks to her granddaughter just a few hundred feet from where the body of her son, Darlyus, was found on Monday morning. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Tina McKay spoke to CBC News while standing near police tape, about 60 metres from where her son's blood remained pooled on the steps of the home where he was shot and killed.

Police had the street blocked off for most of Monday. Parts of Manitoba Avenue were also taped off. 

"How can people be so cruel?" McKay asked, as tears ran down her face.

An investigator with the homicide unit takes a photo of the stoop outside the home on Pritchard. (Submitted by Randall Fillion)

She had just seen Darlyus the night before his death, and said that during his visit, he expressed concern for his well-being.

"He sat beside me, held his hand out ... and I held his hand. He [said] 'I love you.… If anything ever happens to me, just remember that I love you with all my heart," she said.

McKay said she regrets not urging him to stay the night.

"I just wish that he would have stayed. He would have been still here with me today," she said.

Troubled friendships

Concern for her youngest child had been building for some quite time, as McKay learned that he had been caught up in drugs, and began using methamphetamine.

"A few of his friends told me that he was in a lot of trouble and a lot of his friends told me that something was going to happen to him," she said. "He [got] caught up on meth." 

But McKay says her family saw a different side of her son, saying he showed everyone love and received it back.

"He loved his nieces and nephews and he would always put a smile on your face," she said.

Tina McKay said her son Darlyus had started hanging out with the wrong crowd and was involved in the drug trade. (Submitted by Tina McKay)

On the streets, though, McKay says her son was viewed differently.

"He told me he had made a rep for himself, that's what he told me. Look at where it got him — shot," she said.

McKay said those who think they can live the life of a drug dealer and gang member without repercussions are mistaken.

"It is like a trap for them because once they get into that drug … you can't get out.… It drives you further and further," she said.

"I can't say much about the other people because they're basically going to end up in the same spot where he is."

Eyewitness account

The morning gunshots were startling for Randall Fillion, who lives next door to the house where Darlyus's body was found.

"[I was] sitting there having my coffee then I hear a gunshot go off. [I] open the door, look out [and] see somebody running away," he said.

Randall Fillion says he heard a gunshot at 9:20 a.m. on Monday. When he stepped outside, he says he saw one man fleeing the scene and another lifeless on the ground. (Ahmar Khan/CBC)

Fillion says he saw a man in his early 20s running away when he came out of his door, and saw Darlyus McKay lying motionless on the ground, with two women standing near him crying for help.

While Fillion admits that it wasn't his first time hearing a gunshot in his neighbourhood, the level of fear is still the same as if it was.

"It is scary hearing a gunshot. I hear them often around here, but it was right next door, you know — my dogs were out this morning," he said. "In my mind I was, like, 'Oh no, not the dogs.'"

For six years, Fillion has lived in the North End, a neighbourhood he said is deteriorating before his own eyes.

"You don't know when you're going to step out the door and get shot yourself just for no reason," he said. "There's always something happening in the North End."

The homicide on Pritchard Avenue Monday morning is the 30th in Winnipeg this year.

Fillion said he has seen crime overrun his street, and believes the meth epidemic coupled with the multiple gangs has compromised safety.

"The neighborhood has to change. We have to get more hard … on the crime that's going on down here. It's got to be cleaned up," said Fillion.

Fillion said McKay's death, steps from his front yard, will make him look for other neighbourhoods to live in.

"I'm considering moving. This happens too much here.… It's just crazy nowadays. It's getting ridiculous," he said.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).