WINNIPEG — Helder Serpa joined his buddies at the sports bar near his home to watch the Blue Bombers play Montreal on Friday night.
Hours later, the 57-year-old man was allegedly stabbed by a stranger and left to bleed to death alone on the street where he lives.
“Everyone’s in shock,” said Tony Pereira, manager and vice-president of the Sporting Club of Portugal on Notre Dame Avenue.
“He was very friendly — a guy who would give you the shirt off his back,” said Pereira.
Const. Jason Michalyshen said Sunday that police responded about 1:40 a.m. after passersby had found an unconscious injured man.
“The investigation has now revealed that the deceased identified as Helder Serpa, 57-years-old of Winnipeg, was walking to his residence when he was confronted by an unknown male. An altercation took place at which time the victim was stabbed multiple times in the upper body,” Michalyshen said. “Officers located the male suspect in the same area, at which time he was taken into custody.”
Pereira said that Serpa lived a block south of the sports club and a few blocks northeast of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 1.
Pereira said that Serpa left the club just before the game ended to go to the Royal Canadian Legion a couple of blocks away on Sargent Avenue. Police said Sunday that Serpa was stabbed on Spence Street between Spence and Cumberland Avenue a half a block from his house.
The construction worker was a bachelor and had no children, said Pereira. Serpa has a mother and two brothers in Manitoba, he said. Serpa’s mother and stepfather declined to comment Sunday.
“He was well-known and well-loved,” said Pereira at the sports club where Serpa showed up regularly for coffee in the morning and on weekends to watch sports. “He was one of my best customers,” he said.
“He liked his sports,” said club regular, Kim Trethart, “and he knew a lot. He read the papers. He was very intelligent,” he said.
Serpa watched CFL games and was a Bombers fan but soccer was his favourite, said Pereira. They called him “Portista” because he was such a huge fan of the Portuguese soccer club.
At the sports bar on Notre Dame, fans of Serpa are mourning him and raising money for flowers for his funeral.
“We started a fund for him,” Pereira said, pulling out a scribbler with dozens of names and hundreds of dollars pledged just hours after police identified him as the victim.
At about 1:40 a.m. Saturday, Serpa was found unconscious and face down on the ground by a young woman who lives in the area and was walking down Spence Street.
She almost kept on walking, said Sonja Eaglestick.
“I thought he was someone passed out drunk. I was going to walk away, but got this feeling I should go back,” said Eaglestick, who lives in an apartment on Sargent Avenue.
“When I got closer to him I could see blood on his back,” said the 21-year-old.
“I pictured myself as him,” said the young woman. “That could have been me if I was there a couple of hours earlier.”
She called 911 and flagged down a car to help. The driver stopped, then took off, she said. Eaglestick saw some people coming out of a house on Spence and called for help.
“It was horrific. The stab wounds were even horizontal to try and get between ribs. These people, whoever stabbed him, really knew what they were doing when it comes to blades,” David Gaumond said.
Police said that Serpa, who had suffered multiple stab wounds to the upper body, was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.
“I tried to help him,” Eaglestick said Sunday. “I wanted to let the family know I tried to help their loved one,” she said. “I did everything I could.”
Police said Matthew James Sellner, 35, of Winnipeg, has been charged with second-degree murder. He remains in custody.
» Winnipeg Free Press