WINNIPEG — There is candy beside Hunter Haze Straight-Smith’s hospital bed where his family has been in prayer since the three-year-old boy was brutally stabbed while asleep in his bed.
He was in critical condition Thursday night.
“I know it’s Halloween today and kids are going to be out there, but my heart is with this family,” family friend Darryl Contois said.
“I bought the little guy candies for if he comes out of it. I hope he gets to enjoy them.”
Winnipeg police have charged Daniel Jensen, 33, with attempted murder.
Clarice Smith, the boy’s mother, had been in an off-and-on-again relationship with Jensen for about six months. Family said they didn’t know him well and he is not Hunter’s father.
Bianca Smith, the boy’s aunt and godmother, said the boy is mischievous, happy and sometimes shy. She was close to him from the day of his birth.
“It’s been hard, really hard — can’t sleep, can’t eat,” she said wiping away tears outside the Health Sciences Centre. “Every time I close my eyes, I just think of the last time I saw him.”
She said her sister, Clarice Smith, has been by his side in hospital since he was admitted. They are waiting for Hunter to get an MRI to see if there was any improvement.
Police said Jensen was under a court order not to contact Clarice Smith at the time of the attack. Court records show he was charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats in July.
He was also charged this week with failure to comply with recognizance and probation orders.
Family said Jensen confronted the mother about the non-contact order early Wednesday morning. Police said there was an argument that escalated into violence.
Police believe a suspect then walked to a north-end Winnipeg home where the boy was sleeping in a bed and stabbed him multiple times. Then he fled the house.
“I think it’s inconceivable to think that somebody would target an innocent child, probably one that was attempting to sleep at that time of night, very defenceless,” Const. Jay Murray said.
Family said the injuries were brutal.
“Pure evil,” Bianca Smith said. “Like who could do such a thing to an innocent baby who was sleeping.”
Bernadette Smith, member of the legislature for Point Douglas, where the attack happened, wiped away tears as she recalled speaking with family members at the hospital Wednesday night.
“This is a call to our community, to our stakeholders as well as our province and our city, something needs to change,” she said.
She pointed to a spate of violent crimes in the last week involving young people.
A 14-year-old girl was killed and an 18-year-old woman was taken to hospital in critical condition after a stabbing at a Halloween party Saturday. A 16-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman were charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder in that case.
On Sunday, a baby was injured after a man fired a shotgun into a home and then fled.
“This is fuelled by meth and we need more resources for people to get off of this drug,” Smith said.
The Opposition New Democrats have organized a gathering for next week to discuss ways to help people struggling with addictions and to end the violence.
Premier Brian Pallister said that violent crime has been decreasing in the province but he is concerned and officials are looking into it.
“We have a beautiful province, we have a wonderful capital region. We need to make it safe for the people who live here.”
Police Chief Danny Smyth has linked the surge in violence to the city’s methamphetamine crisis.
There have been eight homicides in Winnipeg in three weeks, pushing the number of killings to 37 so far this year. The all-time high was in 2011 when 41 people were killed.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2019.
Kelly Geraldine Mlaone, The Canadian Press