Witnesses say a beating victim was punched so hard that they thought he’d been struck dead.
They say it’s the latest incident at downtown Princess Park which has been plagued by drinking, fighting and other bad behaviour for years.
"Every year, for 23 years, it’s never changed," said a man who witnessed the attack Tuesday evening, a long-term resident of an apartment block that overlooks the park.
It was this man, who wishes to remain anonymous, who reported the assault to police around 7:30 p.m.
Officers arrived to find the victim, a 44-year-old man, still lying on the ground.
He was taken to Brandon hospital with what police described as severe injuries.
He was then transferred to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg where police said he was listed in "stable" condition as of Wednesday afternoon.
The witness said that, in the minutes leading up to the assault, the victim was sitting at one picnic table in the park, while the man described as the suspect and about six to seven other people sat at another.
The assault began when the suspect got up from his table and walked over to the victim who then stood up.
The suspect then threw "one fist after another" at the victim.
"I saw the suspect hit him two or three times very hard in the face… enough to knock him out and he did fall to the ground," he said. "He briefly tried to get up, but he couldn’t he just fell back down again."
From his line of sight, the witness couldn’t tell whether the victim had thrown any punches or tried to fight back.
"I don’t think he tried to… he didn’t have a chance."
Following the beating, the victim lay motionless. Meanwhile, the assailant went back to his table, then walked slowly away from the park with a female.
No one who remained seated at the assailant’s table moved to help the victim, said the witness who phoned police and told them that the victim needed medical attention.
He said officers arrived on scene, followed by paramedics who loaded the victim onto a backboard and took him away by ambulance.
During that whole time the victim didn’t move, which led the witness to wonder whether he was dead.
More uniformed officers arrived, then two plainclothes investigators who took the witness to the police station to make a statement.
Yellow police tape was strung up around the scene and police remained until around 11 p.m.
No arrest has been made and police describe the suspect as a five-foot-ten aboriginal man, about 40 to 45 years old.
They say he wore a dark green T-shirt and the witness added that the suspect, who was fairly slim with black hair, was wearing dark pants.
The resident said he’s lived in his suite more than 23 years and drinking in the adjacent park has always been a longterm problem.
He said he’s made a "fortune" collecting empty beer cans and bottles from the park.
"Every spring and summer it’s always the same," said the man, who described the park as the scene of passed-out drunks, fighting and panhandling.
He said he and other residents of the building have called police hundreds of times over the years.
He said two teenage girls, known to drink at the park, recently attacked an elderly man who was passing by the park and a security officer from his building had to intervene.
Members of the Citizens on Patrol Program have made the park a priority in recent years, and police frequently drive by, but the resident said he’d like to see an even greater presence in the park.
In this case, the group at the assailant’s table didn’t appear to have any liquor.
The apartment resident said that prior to the beating, around 4:30 to 5 p.m., a number of police officers had checked on the group at the table but they were apparently allowed to remain.
The apartment resident said he doesn’t know the victim by name, but knows him by sight as one of those known to hang out at the park.
Another resident at the apartment block also saw the victim lying motionless on the ground following the attack.
He was so concerned by what he saw that he called the Brandon Sun to report the matter as a "possible homicide."
He agreed that drinking in the park is a problem, although it seems police are "cracking down" and patrol the park and check for drinking during the day. The COPP presence helps too.
He’s not worried about his safety, he said, but noted a number of vulnerable people with restricted mobility live in his building.
He said the unseemly side of the park is unfortunate given some of the good things going on there — the summertime concerts, for example, that actually serve to scare away the drinkers.
There’s also the skate park across the street.
"Unfortunately, there’s the dark side where you get this other kind of behaviour."