‘He had a good heart’: Mother of 12-year-old homicide victim remembers son

Sanchez Everette Boulenger, 12, died Friday after being stabbed during an altercation, Winnipeg Police say. Supplied

The mother of a 12-year-old boy who was killed Friday said she hopes people remember her son for his kind heart.

Joni Gabriel said her son, Sanchez Everette Boulanger, was headed out with his girlfriend Friday evening.

It was the last time she spoke with him.

Gabriel said she got a phone call from the hospital later that night.

“When I got to the hospital, that’s when they mentioned Sanchez, ‘well we need to talk to you we’ve got Sanchez here in the other room, we need you to come talk to us,'” Gabriel remembered.

The 12-year-old’s mother said hospital staff told her Sanchez was stabbed and they tried to save him, but couldn’t.

“I just kept thinking, ‘please survive, please survive,'” said Gabriel. “They tried operating on him but couldn’t save him, his body was too weak, he’s just a child.”

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Joni Gabriel, Sanchez’s mother, said her son had a good heart. Supplied

Gabriel said Sanchez was a quiet boy — the second oldest of six siblings.

He had a job and loved playing Fortnite.

“He was a good person, he had a good heart,” Gabriel said. “He just got caught up in the wrong people.”

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) say the situation “exceptionally troubling.”

The force said in a press conference Saturday officers, tactical support and a K9 unit were sent to the 200 block of Burrows Avenue at 7:19 p.m. Friday for a report a male had been stabbed.

Read more: Winnipeg woman, 38, arrested in city’s 17th homicide of the year

Police located a “seriously injured” boy and were assisted by an off-duty nurse who was nearby until he could be brought to hospital where he died of his injuries.

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“A lot of people are going to be searching for answers. Our investigators are in the pursuit of those answers, they’re in the pursuit of justice, and we feel confident we’ll be able to provide that at some point,” said WPS spokesperson Jay Murray.

Murray added he wasn’t able to provide many details about the victim, or the exact circumstances of the incident, other than to say the boy was stabbed during an altercation between two groups.

“He was part of one of the groups … I can’t find a word to accurately describe this,” Murray continued. “There are a number of details that are particularly troubling; details that we may be able to share when charges are laid.”

Read more: Winnipeg man charged in stabbing death of brother, say police

He said police have made “significant” progress in the investigation, but there are likely still witnesses who have yet to come forward.

Homicides involving youths are relatively rare, Murray said, yet take a significant toll on first responders.

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“I think it’s extremely tough, a lot of the people that help in these cases are parents themselves, maybe parents with children that age, and it’s exceptionally tough to deal with these types of incidents,” Murray said.

Adding to the tragedy, Murray pointed out Friday’s incident was the eleventh homicide in the past 31 days, and the fourth in just five days.

“Whether it’s our homicide unit, our forensic identification section members, or the front-line officers that respond to these calls in the first place, these are incredibly taxing events for the Winnipeg Police Service,” Murray said.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Homicide Unit at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

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