Memorial for slain 3-year-old grows as city mourns a tragic loss
Published Sunday, November 3, 2019 6:16PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Toys, flowers, and messages of heartfelt goodbyes surrounded a tree on Pritchard Avenue Saturday – the memorial for three-year-old Hunter Haze Smith-Straight.
Police said the boy was found in a Pritchard Avenue home early Wednesday morning, suffering from multiple stab wounds. He was taken to hospital and put on life support, until the family made the decision to take the boy off life support. On Saturday evening, Hunter Haze Smith-Straight died.
Darryl Contois, a friend of the family, said Hunter’s family is heartbroken.
“It so hard to go through the loss of a little boy that touched many lives,” said Contois. “It’s hard to cope when you lose your own baby. Lot’s goes through your mind – you just want to hold your baby and hear your baby, and now you can’t.”
Contois said he watched a video of Hunter laughing and singing with his mom. To hear Hunter’s voice again, Contois said made him break down.
“More and more people – hug your children wherever they are, because they can be taken away in an instant,” Contois said. ““Spend time just watching your kids, just listening to them, and enjoying their laughter.”
Contois is calling on Winnipeggers everywhere to protect the children of the city and love them unconditionally.
CITY FEELING LOSS OF CHILD
The whole city is feeling the loss of this boy.
Ashlee Lambkin and her seven-year-old daughter went to Hunter’s memorial tree on Pritchard Avenue. Lambkin said she lives down the street from the house where the assault happened. She said she saw the boy many times, running out to play with the other kids on the block.
Lambkin said when her daughter heard about Hunter’s death, she insisted on bringing a teddy bear to the memorial.
“I cried, knowing that’s my neighbour,” Lambkin said. “I honestly don’t know how a community could recover from this. It’s heart breaking. The entire city has been affected by this not just the community – the whole city.”
Not just the city, but across the province and country people have been sending their condolences to the family, Contois said. People have brought food for the family, and funeral homes have offered to cover the funeral costs.
Contois said the family is very thankful for the support and condolences.
Mayor Brian Bowman took to Twitter Sunday saying “ our thoughts are with (Hunter’s) family and friends at this time.”
Brian Pallister added “A child full of hopes and dreams, tragically taken too soon.”
CHARGES AGAINST SUSPECT MAY BE UPGRADED POLICE SAID
On Oct. 31 police arrested and charged 33-year-old Daniel Jensen with attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm, along with a slew of charges in connection to broken court orders.
Police said these charges may be upgraded. These charges have not been tested in court.
“If a victim of any situation does not survive those injuries, and the death is directly related to those injuries, the investigators will move very quickly to upgrade those charges to homicide related charges,” Const. Rob Carver, Winnipeg Police Service, said at a press conference on Saturday.
Carver said homicide investigators have to reach out to a crown attorney, before upgrading any charges.
VIGIL PLANNED IN MEMORY OF HUNTER
The memorial on Pritchard Avenue continued to grow throughout Sunday afternoon as people stopped by to pay their respects. Stuffed animals, flowers, and a sign reading ‘rest in peace Hunter – we love you little angel’ were all placed at the memorial.
Contois said a vigil was planned in honour of Hunter and his family Sunday evening on Pritchard Avenue between Charles Street and Salter Street.
He said all are welcome, and encouraged people to bring candles and drums for the boy.