November 14, 2011 by staff
When Harry Wellington Gegwetch, 42, died of the injuries he sustained early Saturday morning, he became the city’s 35th homicide victim of the year.
“We’re as concerned as we were when we had 32 or 33 (murders) as we are right now,” Const. Jason Michalyshen of the Winnipeg Police Service said Sunday.
“Those numbers put a real blemish on our city. There are a lot of positive things going on in our city this year.”
Winnipeg’s previous record for murders in a year was 34 in 2004. It was tied on Oct. 30 when Mohamed Ali Omar was shot outside a hotel.
There were 22 murders in the city last year.
Gegwetch was discovered by emergency crews who responded to a fire early Saturday. The homeless man was treated at the scene for upper-body injuries and taken in critical condition to hospital, where he later died.
Michalyshen said police have yet to be able to pinpoint why Gegwetch was in the vacant building but they determined that his injuries were “suspicious” and not consistent with what would be expected from a fire.
He said it’s too early to say if the killer or killers were also responsible for setting the fire.
“Anything is possible. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered, a lot of what ifs,” he said.
Gegwetch was known to police but it was for “a lot” of minor incidents related to personal matters.
“We’ve had significant contact with him in the past but that doesn’t mean he was actively involved in criminal acts,” Michalyshen said.
No arrests have been made. Michalyshen said a police investigation is trying to determine what sort of weapons were used. An autopsy is scheduled for early this week and is expected to yield some significant information, he said.
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