A 45-year-old man allegedly beaten to death by a drunken mob would be
alive today if police responded to two earlier 911 calls, people close
to the incident said yesterday.
"He lost his life for no reason," Maryland Hotel owner Amarjeet Warraich
said, standing about two metres from where Peter Roy Debungee was beaten
"It could've been anybody -- anybody." He said Debungee lay face up in
the middle of McGee Street, near a playground where children watched in
disbelief, as his attackers took turns kicking him.
"They were jumping on his face and giving each other high-fives,"
Warraich said he was told by people who saw the attack.
"There were young kids watching. What are they supposed to learn?"
Debungee, formerly of Rainy River First Nation, Ont., was rushed to
hospital in critical condition.
Police said yesterday he died of his injuries Monday.
Six people, including a 16-year-old boy, are in custody charged with
Warraich said his staff called 911 twice Saturday, once at about noon
and then about 4:30 p.m., to report a group of people was drinking in a
nearby parking lot and harassing and chasing hotel patrons.
He said a third 911 call was made from the hotel at 7: 45 p.m.
-- about 45 minutes before Debungee was attacked -- as the same group of
people tried to break down the doors of the hotel and attack staff,
who'd locked them out about eight hours earlier for drunken, rowdy
Warraich and his general manager, who only gave his first name Fred,
said police responded only to the third call. They said police responded
about 8:30 p.m., and caused most of the attackers to scatter.
"I feel the whole death could've been prevented if we had the resources
to have more police here quicker," Fred said. "I'd pay an extra $10 a
month for more of these guys on the street." Police spokesperson Const.
Jacqueline Chaput said the service is examining how many calls came from
the Maryland Hotel and what priorities were assigned each call. Calls
that someone's life's in danger get a faster response.
This isn't the first allegation made by the public of no response, or
slow response, to a 911 call. On May 21, North End resident John
Vandusen said he was attacked in his home by several people and stabbed
despite his girlfriend and a neighbour calling 911. Police took about
two hours to arrive.
Debungee's older brother Elvis said the family was notified about the
attack on Peter early Sunday morning and told they should come to
Winnipeg as his situation was grave.
"We couldn't even recognize him," he said. "His head was all swollen
like a ball. There were massive injuries to his head." Warraich and
Elvis Debungee said they believed Debungee had just bought a case of
beer at the hotel vendor, but police could not confirm if he was beaten
for his beer.
On Saturday, when police arrived at the Maryland Hotel, five of the
suspects ran to an apartment block on McGee Street while a sixth,
unaware police were there, continued to throw rocks at the hotel,
He also said police called for back-up before they went into the block
to look for suspects.
"But these guys changed their T-shirts and walked out to see if they
could get away. People pointed" at a group of men and arrests followed.
Warraich and Fred said they complained to police at the scene and at the
Public Safety Building immediately after the incident that officers
should have responded to the earlier two 911 calls to disperse the
Fred said 911 call-takers asked him on the two earlier calls if anyone
was harmed. When he answered no, he assumed it was assigned a lower
On the first 911 call he was told to call the 986-6222 non-emergency
line as the group was only throwing the rocks, and he says he did.
He made the second 911 call five hours later after one of the attackers
threw sand in a female customer's face.
Police said the six suspects were first charged with aggravated assault,
but with Debungee's death the charges were upgraded to manslaughter.
Ernest Harper, 22, Waylon Harper, 25, Christopher Nattaway, 27, Alfred
Wood, 23, and Quentin Young, 18, remain in custody at the Winnipeg
Remand Centre. A 16-year-old boy is in custody at the Manitoba Youth