'A loss for words': 3-year-old boy in critical condition after brutal assault
WARNING: This story contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing
A three-year-old boy who was critically injured in an early morning assault in Winnipeg's North End is fighting for his life, his family says.
Police found the toddler suffering from significant upper-body injuries after they were called to a Pritchard Avenue home between Salter and Charles streets at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Const. Jay Murray said.
He was taken to hospital in critical condition, and the family says he's on life support.
"I found him and he was lifeless, just laying there. I called 911 right away, I just got scared," the boy's uncle said. The family members aren't being named to protect the identity of the child.
The family believe the toddler was stabbed in the neck while he was sleeping. The family alleges the child's mother and her ex-boyfriend were away from the home when they got into a fight and he assaulted her. They allege he returned to the home and stabbed the boy in his bed. The allegations haven't been proven in court, and no charges have been laid.
"When I close my eyes, that's all I see," the boy's aunt said.
This is the third violent incident involving a child under 15 in Winnipeg in a matter of days, and the second involving a toddler. A 14-year-old girl was stabbed and killed on Saturday. Hours later, a baby was one of four people shot in a targeted shotgun attack.
When CBC News spoke to the family Wednesday afternoon, the boy had already received two blood transfusions and was still in critical condition.
"That's my son's friend — they're close, they love each other," his uncle added.
Murray said no one is in custody at this point, and police believe the assailant is known to the family of the boy.
Angel Thomas, a neighbour and longtime resident of the North End, told CBC News a commotion and some screams could be heard Wednesday morning.
Thomas said it was shocking to learn that a three-year-old was hurt.
"[I feel] guilty, like I could've done something, but I couldn't," Thomas said. "I've been in this community for a long time, and now I don't want to be here."
Will Proulx, a father of two who lives down the block, said he was "heartbroken and overwhelmed" to learn about the assault.
"To hear that a three-year-old just down the street is — wow.… My chest is actually pounding right now to hear that."
Violent crimes involving children
An 18-year-old woman was also stabbed but survived the attack that killed the 14-year-old girl on Saturday.
That incident happened at a Halloween party in the Tyndall Park neighbourhood, and two arrests have been made: a 16-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman are charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.
The teen was one of three people who were victims of homicide that night, bringing the city's total for the year to 36.
On Sunday, a baby was among those taken to hospital after a daytime shotgun attack at a home on Flora Avenue.
The baby is expected to survive, but police said in a news release they couldn't provide an update on the infant's condition.
"It's very unusual for one of these incidents to happen, let alone three within a close proximity to each other," Murray said.
"I'm at a loss for words here in how to describe this."
Anyone with information that could help with the investigation in the case of the assault on the three-year-old is asked to call the major crimes unit at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
With files from CBC's Nelly Gonzalez