Two teens have been charged in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found in a Point Douglas apartment building on Monday and with two serious assaults that happened in the same area that morning, Winnipeg police say.
A 15-year-old boy was arrested on Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Winnipeg woman Danielle Dawn Ballantyne, 36.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the second youth. Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Const. Dani McKinnon said at a news conference on Thursday he is also a teen, but would not reveal his specific age.
“I have to be really careful about what I can share,” she said, adding there’s “always a risk that a suspect could flee.”
Both teens have also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault on two men earlier that morning.
The common link between all three incidents is the suspects, said McKinnon.
“This is terrible and not the answer I want to provide to you, but it appears that all of these incidents are random attacks,” she said.
No suspects identified in 3rd assault
Ballantyne was found dead around 7 a.m. Monday in an apartment building on Jarvis Avenue, near Main Street.
In the hour-and-a-half before that, police officers were also called to three different crime scenes nearby.
Around 4:30 a.m., officers found a man in his 50s with traumatic injuries in a parking lot on Main between Jarvis and Sutherland avenues, about a half-block from the homicide scene.
Approximately 30 minutes later, another injured man in his 50s was found by police in an alley two blocks south, on Main Street near the Bell Hotel.
The teens have been charged in connection with those assaults. Both victims were still in critical condition as of Thursday, McKinnon said.
She added police believe there may be other people connected with the first assault, and repeated that police have evidence that indicates there may be other victims of assaults on Monday morning who have not spoken to police.
The third assault was reported around 5:30 that morning, when an injured man in his 50s flagged down officers in the nearby area of Logan Avenue and the Disraeli Freeway. He told police he had been assaulted, and was taken to hospital in stable condition.
That assault is still under investigation, McKinnon said. Police believe it’s part of the earlier cluster of assaults, though “some work still has to be done on who the suspects were,” she said.
Police haven’t identified any suspects in the third assault, which was not as serious as the other two, but at this point the teens have not been identified as the suspects, McKinnon said.
She said she couldn’t provide details about what kind of injuries the victims had, but said none of the incidents have been identified as shootings.
Neighbourhood has changed, resident says
This week’s incidents in Point Douglas have “community members and citizens very heightened,” McKinnon acknowledged.
“What I would say is what we would say on any given day, not just specific to this string of events … if you don’t have to be outside in dark areas for any reason, don’t be,” she said.
She advised people to get to a safe place and call police if they see any suspicious or violent activity.
Some Point Douglas residents feel crime in the area has gotten worse recently.
Jo Lane has walked to work for 24 years, and knows to stay aware of her surroundings. She doesn’t play on her phone or listen to music, but such strategies don’t “feel like enough anymore,” she said.
This is the first summer she’s felt unsafe, she says.
“There’s too much traffic,” Lane said. “There’s too many people that seem off their heads or something, and I don’t feel safe walking.”
Her husband, David Lane, thinks an increase in illicit drug use is part of the problem.
“There’s some hard drugs going around that are affecting people’s brains, and they’re not thinking rationally.”
Jocelyn Saunders said she and other homeless people in the neighbourhood are trying to stick together.
“Each and every one of us, we just try to watch out for one another,” Saunders said.
“It’s difficult, but we are one big family that help each other out.”
Police ask anyone who has information about this week’s violence or wants to speak to investigators to call the homicide unit at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 204-786-8477.
Police said they’ve also been collaborating with community organizations supporting families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people to provide a trauma-informed and culturally safe support network for Ballantyne’s family.
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