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A woman sits beside posters of Hunter Haze Straight-Smith, the three-year-old who was allegedly stabbed by his mother's boyfriend and taken off life support today, at a vigil outside Winnipeg's Childrens Hospital, Friday, November 1, 2019.JOHN WOODS/The Canadian Press

A three-year-old boy who was stabbed multiple times while he slept was taken off life support on Saturday afternoon and died moments later, a friend of the boy’s family said.

Hunter Haze Straight-Smith’s family gathered around his hospital bed for the child’s last moments at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg as he was removed from the machines that were keeping him alive, said Darryl Contois, who was in the room.

Contois said Hunter breathed on his own for a short time, but the breaths eventually faded while his mother and father stayed beside him.

“They were able to hold their child’s hand as he perished, and they broke down, like any mother would do or any father would do. There’s no words to take way that pain from them,” Contois said in an interview about an hour after Hunter died.

“The family is still with him in the room. They’re taking it hard. They don’t know how to say goodbye and to leave. Their hearts are with him.”

Family had said Hunter suffered severe brain damage during the brutal attack on Wednesday.

Daniel Jensen, 33, was charged with attempted murder on Thursday.

Hunter’s mother, Clarice Smith, and Jensen had been in an off-again-on-again relationship for about six months. Police have said that at the time of the alleged attack, Jensen was under a court order not to contact the mother.

He is not Hunter’s father.

Police believe there was an argument between Smith and Jensen somewhere on Winnipeg’s Main Street. Investigators say that after the dispute, Jensen walked to the home where Hunter was asleep and allegedly stabbed him several times.

Police said that, generally, a charge may be upgraded when a victim of a crime dies.

Jensen was also charged with assault in a separate altercation that allegedly involved Smith.

The boy’s injuries and the family’s ordeal has prompted an outpouring of grief in Winnipeg.

Outside the hospital on Friday, dozens of family friends and supporters gathered for a vigil. Smith and other relatives hugged each other and wept during Indigenous prayers and drum songs.

Contois said the family is thankful for the support they’re received from the public, hospital staff and police.

“It’s hard,” he said. “What do you say to a family that lost a child who they loved, that was taken away from them for no reason?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2019.

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