One dead, another in hospital after shooting at Exchange District nightclub

Winnipeg police say they're investigating the city's 38th homicide of the year after a shooting at an Exchange District nightclub early Saturday morning.

Police investigating city's 38th homicide of the year, after early morning shooting

Police tape was visible Saturday morning around 8:30 at the intersection of Princess Street and Bannatyne Avenue. Officers were called to the area around 1:30 a.m. (Rachel Bergen/CBC)

Winnipeg police say they're investigating the city's 38th homicide of the year after a shooting at an Exchange District nightclub early Saturday morning.

Police say they responded to a gun call at Citizen Nightclub, at the corner of Princess Street and Bannatyne Avenue, around 1:30 a.m.

One man was found dead and another had been shot in the lower body, Const. Rob Carver said Saturday morning. The injured man was taken to hospital in stable condition. 

Both men appeared to be under 30 years old, Carver said.

He said there were a large number of people in the club at the time of the shooting, and police are asking anyone with cellphone video taken during the evening to contact investigators at 204-986-6508, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 204-786-8477.

Evidence markers, police tape and a broken car window can all be seen on Princess Street between Bannatyne and William avenues. (Rachel Bergen/CBC)

When reached by phone, a man who identified himself as one of the owners of the club said he was there at the time of the shooting, but did not see it happen.

He called 911 when he heard shots, he said, adding he didn't want to comment further until police finished their investigation.

Carver said it's not the first time police have had issues at this club.

"Unfortunately, nightclubs in general, places where younger people are going to congregate — there's a party atmosphere, there's alcohol involved," he said.

"People may have access to, or be using street drugs as well … those can make for potentially violent situations and this is one of those."

Police say the shooting began inside the nightclub but spilled into the streets. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Police tape surrounded the area around the nightclub early Saturday morning, and traffic on Princess Street was blocked off between William and Bannatyne Avenues for several hours.

Evidence markers were also placed along the stretch of Princess Street, including around a car with a broken window.

No arrests have been made at this time.

The shooting comes during a shockingly violent week in Winnipeg.

A 14-year-old girl was killed last Saturday at a Halloween party.

Police are also investigating the deaths of two men who were found shot in a back lane near Ross Avenue and Isabel Street early last Sunday morning, and of a man found critically injured on St. Matthews Avenue on Thursday morning.

Those homicides are in addition to the Wednesday morning attack on three-year-old Hunter Straight-Smith. The boy, who had been in hospital since, died after being taken off life support on Saturday

Neighbours, clubgoers shaken

Craig Kwiatkowski's apartment is across the intersection from Citizen. He says he got home before 1 a.m. and didn't hear any of the commotion, but noticed the police tape outside in the morning.

"It's definitely concerning. I'm used to seeing some fights and some rowdy activity around here, kind of often on the weekends," he said.

"There's a lot of great businesses around here and it sucks that this area gets that reputation because of the establishment," said Kwiatkowski, who has lived in the area for three years and also works in the Exchange District.

Craig Kwiatkowski lives near Citizen Nightclub and says he's used to fights and other rowdy behaviour outside of the establishment. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

He says he "easily could have been outside" at the time of the shooting walking his dog, but adds he doesn't want crime to keep him from enjoying the area.

"We try not to let it deter us from going out. This is our neighbourhood, we live here and we deserve to be able to walk out at any time and feel safe doing so."

Taylor Fawcett has never been to the club where Saturday's shooting happened but was invited to go by a friend Saturday night.

Taylor Fawcett said she was invited to Citizen nightclub on Saturday evening and is thankful she ended up going somewhere else instead. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

She's now thankful she didn't, but said hearing about the shooting from her friends who were there was unsettling.

"That is a very scary feeling for me, because I do go clubbing and I'm actually worried to go to clubs now, because I'm like, 'what if that happens?'" the 19-year-old said.

"It doesn't really feel safe anymore."

Police had several cars taped off on Saturday as they investigated. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Fawcett wonders how someone was able to get a gun inside the club.

"I thought there was more higher standards," she said.

"They pat you down — they pat the guys down, but they don't pat girls down."

It's not clear what security standards are in place at the club or if patrons are screened at the door.

With files from Holly Caruk