NEWS

New Year's Day slaying victims identified

01/02/2012 10:25 EST | Updated 03/03/2012 05:12 EST

The Toronto family of a man stabbed to death early New Year's Day has made an emotional plea to anyone who saw anything in the Liberty Village area to come forward.

Speaking at a police news conference on Monday afternoon, the brother, mother, sister and girlfriend of 24-year-old Michael Pimentel asked for any witnesses to approach police.

"If anybody has any information about my brother, please come forward," his brother Josh said. "Whoever did this is a big coward."

Det.-Sgt. Wayne Banks said Pimentel had been at a New Year's Eve party at the Liberty Grand nightclub on the CNE grounds. Sometime after 2 a.m., he and a group of about a dozen friends began walking to a friend's house in the Liberty Village area.

Pimentel broke off from the group as he wished other Torontonians a happy New Year's, Banks said.

When he reached the intersection of Hannah Avenue and Liberty Street, he was stabbed more than once. "Was there any type of a verbal argument or any type of a fight before that, we don't know," Banks said.

He walked to the east and collapsed near a Hero Burgers in the Liberty Village area, Banks said.

Emergency crews drove Pimentel to St. Michael's Hospital after responding to an emergency call at 2:48 a.m., but he died soon afterwards.

Dozens of people nearby

At least 100 people were in the area celebrating New Year's, Banks said. He urged any of them, as well as any local residents or business owners who saw or heard anything or have video footage, to call police.

"Though they may think that they have no information to give, it may be the piece of the puzzle we need to solve this homicide," he said.

Banks said people can contact police at 416-808-7400.

His family described Pimentel as the father of a five-year-old girl who worked hard at his construction job.

"He was a great guy," his girlfriend, Jennifer DeFraga, said. "He was always cracking jokes. Always smiling. Just so funny and always on the go. He loved to work out and work hard. He was a hard-working man and father. Just an amazing person."

Meanwhile, Toronto police also released the name of a man shot in a separate New Year's Day killings

Police identified Jamal Franklin, 20, as the man shot dead at 4:30 a.m. Sunday on Hupfield Trail, in the Finch Avenue and Neilson Road area.

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