Winnipeg teen's killing top of mind at West End police safety forum
Residents come armed with questions about their safety, city's meth problem
Winnipeg's top cop told a gathering of residents in the West End the man who killed a 17-year-old boy in a random home invasion will be held accountable for the crime, as he tried to reassure the crowd the city is still a safe place.
"We are shocked and angered by the senselessness of the attack and our hearts go out to the community and more particularly to the family," Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said at the start of a crime forum at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Thursday night.
Smyth said his officers are still trying to come to terms with the death of Jaime Adao Jr., who died Sunday night after being attacked in his home on McGee Street. The killing, which police believe was completely random, has gripped the city and left many residents worried about their safety.
Police shot at the 29-year-old home intruder several times to stop him from continuing his attack on Adao but it was too late, said Smyth Thursday night.
"I'm sorry that we were unable to save Jaime when we arrived. But we will ensure that justice is done for him and his family."
The suspect, who Smyth said lived close to the Adao home but was not known by the victim, is still in hospital in critical condition.
"I have to start looking around me all the time, you know, when I leave a building. Never mind you may be inside the house where you're supposed to be safe, but it's not the same anymore," said Perla Javate, a retired community liaison who used to work for the Winnipeg School Division.
She knows the 17-year-old's mother and said the killing has had an emotional impact on her ever since she found out about it.
"It has hit me directly, close to my heart because I've worked with a lot of young people and I know how promising their lives are and this incident just brings it close to everyone who has young children."
'I'm not safe anymore'
"I'm not safe anymore," said Wilma Gaburno, a home care worker who hoped to gain some safety tips she can use during her early morning shifts to stay safe.
Gaburno, who works in Point Douglas and the North End, said she started feeling unsafe a few years ago.
"It's so hard because people are going around and then they just sometimes … slash my car or sometimes they broke my car and it's so scary."
Winnipeg police have repeatedly said methamphetamine use in the city is fuelling an increase in crime and putting a strain on resources.
One of their members who is a drug expert spoke at the community forum, which was pre-planned many months ago, to give residents background about the addiction that is gripping the city.
His presentation was closely followed by Gordon Blackburd, who lives in the North End and wanted to get a better sense of where police are coming from.
"You know I just don't want to be a naysayer sitting at home listening to the radio, thinking to myself these people … don't care or they don't want to help."
Smyth said he's been hearing the same question since Sunday — is the community safe?
"These kind of events they create a level of fear in the community and I understand that these things don't happen very often," he said.