A 19-year-old Canadian First Nations woman’s murder was captured on Facebook Live
Two teen girls have been arrested and charged in the killing of Serena McKay.
This is the latest in a string of gruesome acts posted to Facebook.
The area where she was killed is one of the deadliest for First Nations women.
A gruesome beating of a 19-year-old Canadian woman, streamed on Facebook Live last Sunday and circulated widely before authorities intervened, has now been deemed a homicide by the RCMP.
Two younger teen girls, aged 16 and 17, have been arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of Sagkeeng First Nation woman, Serena McKay, for this latest in violent, controversial incidents posted to the social media platform using its newer streaming platform.
— Maria Vultaggio (@mariamzzarella) April 26, 2017
Drugs May Have Played a Role
McKay, according to Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School principal Claude Guimond, would have graduated this year. Guimond told CBC News he suspects illicit substances were likely involved:
“After seeing what I saw on the video, you know what? There’s nobody in their right mind [that] would do something like that, unless they were extremely high on whatever and just totally, like, out of it.”
Video Might Still Be Circulating
Reports say video of the killing was originally posted last Sunday, when the beating allegedly took place, though Royal Canadian Mounted Police — acknowledging awareness of the video — refused to comment whether the circulated footage indeed showed the incident in question.
Sgt. Paul Manaigre explained to CBC authorities are reviewing the video to determine how or if it will be useful in their investigation or the prosecution of the two teen girls.
“Posting videos to the internet is not a crime,” Manaigre told the outlet. “If someone was there and actively involved [it] is a whole different aspect that will be investigated as part of this matter.”
Stunned such violent footage would be shared across social media, he added,
“I can’t imagine what the family, the community is going through right now. This is a 19-year-old female; this is someone’s child, cousin, niece, sister. They’re in shock, they’re grieving over her loss and they’re trying to come to terms with it.
“The internet, being what it is today, we have to be careful … what we do. Everything is being put out there. It can be dangerous.”
Although McKay and the two accused attended Sagkeeng High together, Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson noted McKay did not live on the reservation, but, instead hailed from Powerview-Pine Falls, in Minnesota, where she stayed with another family.
Shock Has Not Dissipated
Classmates of the slain teenager held a healing ceremony on Tuesday as they attempted to cope with the loss. Grief counselors were also made available for shocked students.
“They were shocked to the core that this could actually happen, that they interacted with these students on a daily basis and they couldn’t believe that there could be something as horrific as this,” Guimond lamented.
“It left them almost speechless.”
Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson told the Winnipeg Free Press, “It is pretty disheartening, of course, for the community. We’ve no idea what happened.”
The Daily Haze, like the Winnipeg Free Press, has decided not to include video footage of McKay’s murder — although reports claim it was still in circulation at the end of the week.
According to the Free Press, “The video, likely taken with a cellphone, shows a person wearing a boot repeatedly kicking at a woman trying to shield her bloodied face with her hand and arm as another person jumps in to pull back the victim’s arm.”
Henderson, having heard what footage might show, flatly stated,
“I don’t want to see it.”
“We are hurting enough as it is,” he continued. “But I would ask the person who took it, ‘Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you do something?’ If you see somebody being hurt, why don’t you do anything? That’s what really bothers me.”
An instant message exchange obtained by the Free Press from a resident of the reserve, allegedly evinces conversation between one of the girls believed to be responsible for the death of McKay — although, without screen captures included and with an investigation ongoing, the following is impossible to verify.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, one of the suspects wrote,
“We fought, I broke her nose then that happened, she left after, she was OK.
“She was up and walking.”
Just hours later, the same suspect messaged,
“She was found dead bro… Promise me say when we fought it wasn’t that bad. Her nose was just bleeding lots… I’m f—in scared.
“Promise me, you won’t tell em I fought her deadly. Please bro… Say after we closed the door, she left.”
One witness who requested to remain anonymous, was led by another to McKay’s body, and expressed extreme shock at the discovery.
“I was one of the first on the scene,” she told the outlet, adding she’d summoned police immediately to the scene. “I’m taking medication now. I can’t stop seeing it. It’s really hard. She was on the ground outside and you couldn’t see until you walked up… from the road, you couldn’t really even see her.
“It’s really haunting, seeing that girl there. You couldn’t even recognize her as a human. They were really awful to her.”
Although she noted a ruckus nearby on Saturday evening, the unnamed woman told the Free Press that wasn’t unusual for the area, which is a known party location for young people.
“I feel terrible. I keep thinking I should have called… I should have called.”
Notably, CTV reports despite the grisly nature of the killing, tragedy isn’t unfamiliar in the area — home to around 3,000 people. As Henderson opined, ‘Sagkeeng has the highest number of cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in the country.’
Time to Heal — Yet Again
Serena McKay’s untimely death sent shockwaves through the tiny community, which must come to terms with the unexpected loss.
— Jill Coubrough (@coubroughCBC) April 28, 2017
Friends and teachers were stunned the 19-year-old — whom they claim had been friendly and giving to everyone — could have met with such a violent end.
— newsa.com Canada (@newsaCANADA) April 28, 2017
During Tuesday’s vigil, in which a sacred fire burned in memory of McKay, attendee Rhonda Head echoed the deep sadness felt by the community, telling CTV,
“It’s very sad in there. You can feel the sadness, the pain, the hurt. But the leaders that are talking, they’re trying to give hope.”