Nfld. & Labrador

No arrests or word on weapon after man, 23, dead following Bond Street incident, say police

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says a 23-year-old man has died following an undisclosed serious incident on Bond Street in downtown St. John's Tuesday night.

Caution: This story contains images that some readers may find disturbing

RNC officers were at the scene of a fatal incident on Bond Street in St. John's on Tuesday night. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

A 23-year-old man has died following a violent incident on Bond Street in downtown St. John's on Tuesday night, but few other details about the investigation have been released by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

It's still not clear if it was a shooting or a stabbing. RNC spokesman Const. James Cadigan said the "investigation is in its infancy" and the information on the nature of the incident is not available to be released.

But a resident of a nearby house said he heard a gunshot.

The resident, who spoke to CBC on the condition of anonymity, said five people were gathered in the alleyway near an emergency shelter house. He said he recognized two of them as men who had previously stayed at the emergency shelter but are no longer residents.

This is the view of the scene from Josh Taylor's loft, as police and emergency responders were called to an incident on Bond Street in St. John's on Tuesday night. (Josh Taylor/Twitter)

After he heard the bang, the man said he looked at the in-house security cameras and saw three men scatter.

He said the video shows a man walking backwards and holding his neck.

When he went outside he saw a man crying and holding a gun, and a young man lying on the ground and bleeding. About an hour later, he said, he saw the man return to the scene before running away again.

"When he saw one of us, he run away. We really don't know who they are."

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Cadigan said police believe there was "some acquaintance-type of relationship" between the people involved.

When officers arrived, the 23-year-old man was found with "serious injuries." He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The RNC previously tweeted that it is not believed to be a random attack.

Police have provided few details on what happened but said they don't believe it was a random attack. (Meghan McCabe/Twitter)

The office of the chief medical examiner has been tasked in the investigation to determine cause of death.

Any footage from residents in the area would be helpful, Cadigan said, and people are asked to first contact police with "sensitive information."

For area resident Josh Taylor, the heavy police presence outside his St. John's home has become an unsettling norm.

'Scene was total chaos'

Taylor lives across the road from the private emergency shelter on Bond Street, where what police called the "serious incident" occurred.

The initial scream of sirens and flashing police lights at first didn't stir Taylor.

"It's a constant occurrence," he said, of seeing emergency responders on his street.

We just want proper supports so these people aren't put in harm's way.- Josh Taylor

It wasn't until later when he realized the scope of the response that Taylor looked out his window to investigate.

Blood splattered the sidewalk, where a young man was taken to hospital in what area residents said appeared to be either a stabbing or a shooting.

"I got up into my loft, I looked out and I saw the amount of blood that was there, I saw the number of first responders, and I just saw the crowd of people around," Taylor said, adding that most of the people he saw he recognized as residents of the for-profit transition shelter.

"The scene last night was of total chaos. It's sad to say that it's a rather regular occurrence, so when this first started, I didn't jump up and see the sirens and say, 'what's happening?'"

As of Wednesday morning, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has not provided an update on the nature of the incident, the condition of the young man, or whether there have been any arrests.

RNC spokesman Const. James Cadigan says the information about what kind of weapon was used is not being released yet, as the investigation is 'in its infancy.' (CBC)

Dimitri Naumenko, who manages the emergency shelter, said all of the current residents living there are accounted for, and were not involved in the incident.

"Everybody who stayed here, none of them were involved. Everybody's safe and so we're just business as usual today," Naumenko said, adding that tape from the security camera system he installed just weeks ago has been handed over to investigators.

Taylor said since he, too, has a home security system, including a doorbell camera, it's become standard for him to have to speak with police about incidents at the home.

"I was trying to wonder how many times the police have come — I've spoken to several officers about it and they said some of them feel it's daily," Taylor said.

"I, as a resident, without exaggerating, would say it's at least two calls a week — and that's been happening for well over two years."

Taylor said he doesn't have an issue with emergency shelter in the area, but rather the way the homes are run.

"We're a very inclusive neighbourhood downtown. We don't want people to perceive this as we don't want these types of housing in our neighbourhood — that's not the case at all," he said.

"We just want proper supports so these people aren't put in harm's way."

Naumenko, meanwhile, said homes like the one he manages on Bond Street are in high demand and services are limited.

"I know there is maybe some concern about this house here, but we try to manage it the best way we can. I know there's people in this city that need extra help, that's what we're here to do," he said.

"We take security of neighbourhood seriously and we do what we can, every time there's an incident that may threaten peace here, we call police."

Taylor said he and his neighbours have been meeting with city officials and police regularly to talk about the issue, and have received a positive response in all the interactions.

Dimitri Naumenko manages an emergency shelter, outside which a man was killed in a what police are calling a 'serious incident.' (Mark Quinn/CBC)

But Taylor said he wants to put pressure on the provincial government to come up with a proper transition housing strategy so people in need of emergency and transition housing aren't left in limbo.

"So many of these instances are so easily identifiable with properly trained social workers or people that can work on site," Taylor said.

"People are randomly thrown into a very small room with nothing more than maybe a television and they're all just mingling in the hall trying to kill time and make the best of what is just really a horrible situation."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show