Manitoba

Police search for suspect in weekend Airbnb stabbing

Winnipeg police have issued an arrest warrant for a Winnipeg man suspected of stabbing two people early Sunday morning in an apartment building on Portage Avenue.

Airbnb suspends the account of the booking guest after 2 stabbed at rental apartment

A police officer stands outside 265 Portage Avenue Sunday following a bloody incident there. (Ahmar Khan/CBC)

Winnipeg police are looking for a man suspected of stabbing two people in an Airbnb apartment suite at 265 Portage Ave. early Sunday morning. 

The stabbing took place around 1 a.m. in a fifth-floor suite of the apartment block called The Avenue. Two people were rushed to hospital in stable condition. 

It's the first crime scene at an Airbnb in Winnipeg, but the situation has occurred in hotels and is not uncommon, said Winnipeg Police Service Const. Rob Carver.

"You rent out a place, the policies are typically posted, and anyone who is a client would be well-advised to go through those in detail," Carver said.

Carver called it "a very classic situation" involving a party with alcohol and an argument over a woman. Five people under 30 years of age were at the party, including the alleged assailant.

"You mix people at a party, and you mix booze and/or drugs, and there's a potential for violence and in this case that's what happened."

CBC News observed a pool of blood on Sunday morning on the ground outside of the Portage Avenue building, and officers were seen going in and out of the building.

The crime took place in one of five suites rented out by Airbnb for short-term stays and managed by an executive rental company, said The Avenue building manager Sharon Michalowski.

Drops of blood were spotted on Portage Avenue between Garry and Smith Street on Sunday following an incident there. (Ahmar Khan/CBC)

Otherwise, Airbnb rentals are prohibited in the apartment block, as stated in the rental agreements, Michalowski said. She told CBC News that the building has had issues with people renting their suites online on Airbnb "maybe twice." In those cases, the tenants were confronted.

Michalowski said that the priority is the safety of building tenants right now.

"Whenever anything like this happens in the building, we review our security to see how to make things safer," she said, adding that this includes reviewing entrance security, which is already equipped with double locked doors and cameras.

Building resident Sean Angus told CBC News that he was shocked when he saw police tape and blood in the lobby and stairwell Sunday morning.

"Normally, it's a safe building," said Angus, who has lived in The Avenue for about a year and has not witnessed any criminal activity around the building.

'It was pretty disturbing'

"I just wanted to get out of the house all day after seeing that. It was pretty disturbing."

When asked how he felt about Airbnb in the building, Angus said he has never had a problem when using Airbnb, and has never heard of any issues in the building.

While the incident was shocking, Angus said he still feels safe.

Resident Yolanda Li, however, does not.

"I've never seen such a mess before, and I'm scared," said Li, who has lived in The Avenue for two years.

"I heard some noises, but I didn't know what happened. I saw that there was police cars coming by, the door was open, and there was blood on the floor… it looks really bad."

With regards to Airbnbs, Carver said if people are going to rent out their residence, they have to be aware that strangers are coming into their home, and that "it doesn't come without additional issues."

An Airbnb spokesman told CBC News that it has suspended the account of the booking guest and stands ready to support Winnipeg Police in its investigation.

"The violence reported has no place in the Airbnb community and we take such reports incredibly seriously," he said.

Violent weekend?

Carver said WPS "had been inundated with questions" regarding other stabbings.

There was also a third stabbing over the weekend and an assault with a weapon that could be considered a stabbing, but it was not particularly busy, he said. 

"That is absolutely the normal for the city," Carver said.

Winnipeg police are looking for a man suspected of stabbing two people in an Airbnb apartment suite at 265 Portage Avenue early Sunday morning. 1:33

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story indicated that police had referred to a stabbing incident at Bell MTS Place over the weekend. In fact, police were referring to an incident in which an intoxicated person was arrested at Bell MTS Place. The incident did not involve a stabbing.
    Sep 17, 2019 5:42 PM CT

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