WINNIPEG – A gruesome discovery in downtown Winnipeg Wednesday morning has left more questions than answers.
A 55-year-old homeless man’s body was found outside in frigid temperatures. He may have been there for hours, possibly all night.
He was found by a passerby at 5:30 a.m. behind the United Way building on Main Street.
His name wasn’t released, but some who knew him from the streets said the man battled an alcohol addiction. Police don’t know if he suffered a medical emergency, was assaulted or simply succumbed to the cold.
“Unfortunately he fell in an area that is not well-travelled,” said Winnipeg police Const. Eric Hofley.
He was found frozen after a night when, with the wind chill, it felt like – 27.
“In nicer weather, perhaps even if hours later, he may have been found alive, but in this weather, that extra cold could have been the difference between survival and not surviving,” said Hofley.
There are at least four surveillance cameras outside the building, and police will review the footage to find out how long the man was outside and whether he had been assaulted.
Mark Young of the Salvation Army said assaults among the homeless are on the rise.
“In the past year, there has been an increase in aggression, anger, amongst the population, the homeless population.”
The homeless are becoming more desperate for food, shelter and clothing, Young said.
A thin jacket and shoes were found at the scene.
“We’re desperately looking for the winter coats,” said Young, adding for some reason this year they have a major shortage of winter coats and boots.
People at the Lighthouse Mission said the man may have frequented their soup kitchen and this didn’t need to happen.
“There’s not a reason anyone would need to spend time outside, even if they’ve been turned away from places that are already full,” said Joel Cormie. “There’s always places they can go to spend the night and stay warm.”
An autopsy will determine the cause of the man’s death.