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Man killed in Whistler during May long weekend

Victim has been identified as 19-year-old Burnaby man Luka Gordic
ON THE SCENE A police car at the scene of a suspected homicide in Whistler's Marketplace parking lot on Sunday, May 17. Photo by Braden Dupuis

A Lower Mainland man is dead following a stabbing in the village on early Sunday, May 17, and several suspects are now in custody, confirmed Whistler RCMP.

Police responded to the incident outside of the Marketplace IGA at approximately 12:30 a.m. and found a 19-year-old male with life-threatening injuries.

The man was taken to the Whistler Health Care Centre, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as Burnaby's Luka Gordic, who was reportedly in town with friends for the weekend. CTV News reported that Gordic was apparently sticking up for a friend when he was killed.

"This was a situation where a group of young people who knew each other had a dispute which turned deadly," said Sgt. Stephanie Ashton, media spokesperson for the RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), in a May 19 release.

Three 17-year-old males and an 18-year-old man — all from the Lower Mainland — have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the incident. They appeared in court Tuesday, May 19.

Eyewitness Borno Kazemnia, who was visiting the resort from Coquitlam, said he was walking by a group of about four or five men before the attack when he overheard arguing.

"I saw a group of (South Asian) people arguing with each other, pushing and shoving. It was just stupid," he said. "It was an argument that I think started from the club ... and it carried over from there."

Less than 24 hours after Sunday's death, a second stabbing took place on Whistler Way.

The victim, also 19 years old, suffered "multiple stab wounds" in the attack, police said, which was reported just before midnight on Sunday.

The man was taken to the local clinic for treatment before being transported to Vancouver hospital.

Police have not released the victim's identity.

By most accounts, the weekend had been relatively tame until Sunday morning's death thanks to a large police presence and private security hired by the municipality. As of 10 p.m. Saturday night, police had detained only five individuals for a variety of minor offences, such as public intoxication, confirmed Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair.

But the attacks will surely be another black eye for Whistler's notorious May long weekend, which has become the busiest weekend of the year for Whistler RCMP.

Last year, police responded to several violent incidents, including a handful of stabbings, on a weekend that's become a popular getaway for young adults from across the Lower Mainland.

Despite a drop in violent crime, the year prior saw numerous reports of vandalism, causing thousands of dollars in property damage to village businesses. As a result, council formed a task force to find solutions to an historically rowdy weekend that was made up of representatives from the municipality, law enforcement and local hotel sector.

The Great Outdoors Festival, now in its second year, was developed in part to attract a more family-friendly demographic to the resort, and offers a full program of outdoor recreation, live music and arts.

It wasn't the first time officials have banded together to address the problems marring the Victoria Day holiday.

A committee led by a local hotel owner was launched in 2006 following a particularly rowdy May long weekend, and presented several recommendations to council in 2007.

Violence struck again in 2008 when a Whistler man and two of his friends were injured after being stabbed with a screwdriver by a group of attackers while walking home from a village nightclub.

There have now been two suspected murders in the resort in 2015. In January, 45-year-old Port Coquitlam man Damon William Campbell died following an altercation with another individual at a village hotel. No suspects have been named in the investigation.

Anyone with information on last night's death is asked to call IHIT at 1-877-551-4448.

Check back in with Pique with this developing story.

With files from Braden Dupuis.

This post has been updated as more information became available.