By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A memorial has grown outside the Winnipeg home where a three-year-old boy was allegedly stabbed as he slept last week, while political leaders add their voices to those offering condolences to the child’s grieving family.
Hunter Haze Straight-Smith suffered severe brain damage during the incident on Wednesday, according to his family, and died shortly after he was taken off life support on Saturday afternoon.
A vigil was planned outside the home on Pritchard Ave. on Sunday night, adding to several that have been held in the city over the course of a few days.
Mourners placed stuffed animals, flowers and other offerings around the trunk of a large tree in front of the home.
A sign attached to the tree reads, “Rest In Peace Hunter, from all of the grandmothers.”
Daniel Jensen, 33, who was in an on-again-off-again relationship with Hunter’s mother but who was not the boy’s father, was charged with attempted murder on Thursday.
Police have noted a charge may be upgraded when a victim of a crime dies, and they say Jensen remains in custody.
“Further information concerning the status of this investigation will be released when it becomes available,” a news release from the Winnipeg Police Service stated Sunday morning.
Premier Brian Pallister tweeted after Hunter’s death that the province’s thoughts and prayers go out to the boy’s family and friends.
“A child full of hope and dreams, tragically taken too soon,” Pallister wrote.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman echoed the sentiment.
“Our hearts are heavy this morning with the tragic loss of Hunter Straight-Smith, & our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Police have said that at the time of the alleged attack, Jensen was under a court order not to contact the mother.
Investigators have said they believe there was an argument between the woman and Jensen somewhere on Winnipeg’s Main Street. After the dispute, they allege Jensen walked to the home where Hunter was asleep and stabbed him several times.
At an earlier vigil outside Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre on Friday, the mother and other relatives hugged each other and wept during Indigenous prayers and drum songs.
A friend of the boy’s family, Darryl Contois, said Hunter’s mother and father were at their son’s hospital bedside along with relatives and friends after the machines that were keeping him alive were removed.
“They broke down, like any mother would do or any father would do. There’s no words to take away that pain from them,” Contois said.