Former high school football star killed in Winnipeg's Millennium Library

Tyree Cayer, 28, the man identified as the victim in Sunday's fatal stabbing inside Winnipeg's downtown Millennium Library, is being remembered for his prowess on the high school gridiron.

3 teens, ages 14 to 16, charged in connection with homicide

Tyree Cayer shows off his Elmwood Giants uniform in his high school football-playing days. (Submitted by Tania Cayer)

The man identified as the victim in Sunday's fatal stabbing inside Winnipeg's downtown Millennium Library is being remembered for his prowess on the high school gridiron.

Tyree Cayer, 28, was a former star running back with the Elmwood Giants, helping lead the high school football team to the 2011 A Division championship game.

"He was super outgoing," said Kyle Klassen, who had been friends with Cayer since they were in Grade 3.

"He lit up the whole room. He had energy for days. He always had a big smile on his face and he just, he loved life. He loved talking, he loved his people.… He was just special."

After high school, Cayer went on to play for Team Manitoba. 

"He was really good," Klassen said. "He was our star on our team. He really put Elmwood on the map for football. He just grew the football program so big."

Cayer's mom, Tania, sent an email to CBC News, urging people to remember him as Tyree, not the 51st homicide victim of the year in Winnipeg.

"I'm proud to say he is my son," she wrote.

Tyree Cayer shares a moment with his aunt Chantelle, who died in 2017. Cayer's mom, Tania, said the two were best friends. (Submitted by Tania Cayer)

Other friends and family members shared their memories of Cayer on social media.

"You always had the biggest smile on your face and gave that same smile to everyone around you. Rest easy brother!" said a post on Cayer's Facebook page.

"The halls of Elmwood are very sad today. May peace find you all in this difficult time," said a post on a Facebook page created in memory of Cayer.

Youth charged

Three boys age 14 to 16 now face charges in Cayer's stabbing death.

A 15-year-old and a 16-year-old are charged with manslaughter, while a 14-year-old is charged with second-degree murder, police said in a news release on Tuesday.

More arrests are anticipated as the investigation continues, police said.

A number of police vehicles sit outside the Millennium Library at 8 p.m. on Sunday, three-and-a-half hours after police were called about the stabbing. (Donna Lee/CBC)

The boys and Cayer became involved in a verbal dispute on Sunday afternoon that escalated into physical violence, police said. Cayer was then stabbed by one of the boys.

Officers were called to the library, at Donald Street and Graham Avenue, just after 4:30 p.m. Cayer was rushed to hospital in critical condition, where he was pronounced dead.

The three boys ran off before police arrived, but homicide investigators identified them, a police news release said.

Union asked for 'urgent action' last week

The head of the union representing library workers says they sent a letter to Mayor Scott Gillingham and chief administrative officer Michael Jack after an earlier violent incident.

Following the incident last Thursday, CUPE Local 500 sent a letter "demanding that action … be taken immediately to ensure the safety of our staff at the Millennium Library, and other areas as well be addressed," said president Gord Delbridge.

"We were requesting urgent action."

The city declined CBC's request to speak with the manager of library services.

Coun. John Orlikow, chair of the community services committee, said someone brought a machete to the library last Thursday. 

City officials are meeting with library staff to review Sunday's fatal stabbing at Millennium and discuss next steps, he said.

"The reports we've heard is they had a lot of incidents going on throughout the day," said Orlikow.

"Why was it not dealt with prior? We have a lot of security there. Is that a problem? We don't know. So we need time to digest this and do a little bit of assessment."

Sherri Rollins, the city councillor for the ward that includes the library, doesn't want to see a return to stricter screening measures like those implemented in 2019, when the city brought in metal detectors and bag searches for anyone over the age of 13.

Those measures were scrapped after pushback from community members.

"Knee-jerk responses like airport like security or paramilitary gear isn't the community safety conversation that we need to be having," the Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry councillor said.

A motion on security measures is expected to come before city council this Thursday.

The library will remain closed at least until Dec. 19 "as we evaluate next steps for ensuring the safety of all staff and visitors," the City of Winnipeg said in a statement.

Anyone with information that could help investigators is asked to call police at 204-986-6508 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477 (TIPS).

Former high school football star killed in Winnipeg's Millennium Library

6 months ago
Duration 2:27
Tyree Cayer was the victim of a fatal stabbing inside Winnipeg's downtown Millennium Library. He is being remembered for his prowess on the high school gridiron.


Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.