A 54-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a family physician who died Monday after a violent attack at a Red Deer, Alta., walk-in clinic.
Dr. Walter Reynolds died in hospital after he was assaulted with a weapon at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic where he practised. A witness to the attack told CBC News that a patient armed with a hammer and machete attacked the doctor just before noon inside an examination room.
Deng Mabiour, 54, has been charged with first-degree murder in Reynolds’ death, CBC News has confirmed.
He has also been charged with assault on another doctor and assault on a peace officer.
He has been remanded in custody and is due back in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday. He has no previous criminal record, according to a source at the Red Deer court.
Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, detachment commander of the Red Deer RCMP, is expected to provide an update on the investigation during a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Tuesday.
CBC News will live stream the news conference here.
‘An unimaginable, horrific act of violence’
Reynolds is being remembered by friends and colleagues as a devoted husband and a loving father.
An online fundraiser established for the family described Reynolds as a loving husband and amazing father to two young daughters.
“An unimaginable, horrific act of violence took him away from his loving family,” reads the GoFundMe page.
“His friends, colleagues and community mourns an exceptional human being lost too soon. We all are devastated and heartbroken.”
Funds raised by the campaign will support his daughters’ education, the page said.
Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil is being planned for Friday at Red Deer City Hall. It will take place in the flower gardens at 7 p.m.
Reynolds’s death has sent shock waves through the Alberta medical community, Red Deer physician Dr. Peter Bouch said in an interview Tuesday.
“It’s utter shock and horror,” Bouch said.
“Every emotion goes through you, that such a thing could happen to a physician in their clinic while seeing a patient.
“I think all of us today are in the same mindset. Why did this happen and what can we do to try and prevent this in the future?”
Bouch, who has practised in Red Deer for more than two decades, knew Reynolds as a friend and colleague.
They often crossed paths in the central Alberta community’s tight-knit network of doctors.
Reynolds was a young father with an active family.
Both men originally hailed from South Africa. Both shared a passion for medicine.
“He was a family man and an all-around very friendly, great guy,” Bouch said.
“He was an excellent doctor. You know, he really cared about his patients. He was a great doctor and a great family man.”
Doctors struggle to make sense of tragedy
Bouch, who serves as a spokesperson for Red Deer Primary Care Network, said the tragedy has created fear in the medical community.
Doctors, already dealing with the pressures of the pandemic, are feeling anxious.
He said he received dozens of calls Monday night from physicians struggling to make sense of the tragedy.
Bouch hopes counselling is made available to those who need it.
“This just adds another layer of stress,” he said. “And all of this stress combines to affect every family physician in town here, especially those who were working closely with him.
“I think it’s beyond words what they’re going through.”
Bouch wonders if it will change the way many doctors in the community serve their patients in the future.
All physicians are trained to deal with difficult patients, but when they come wielding a weapon, no one can prepare for that, he said. He expects to see clinics adopt more safety protocols.
“I really hope that it would not pull away from the doctor-patient relationship … but we’re going to have to be on guard and a lot more vigilant about the people coming into our clinic.
“It’s going to take a while to find the impact that this is going to have on the physician community … it’s yet to be seen exactly what that is.”
Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro both tweeted Monday that they were saddened to hear about the fatal attack on the doctor.
In a news conference Tuesday, Kenney commended the police who responded to the attack and offered condolences to the family.
“I know hearts and minds go out to the family and the loved ones and the co-workers of that physician,” Kenney said.
“I want to commend the police for having responded quickly and alertly to that attack and preventing any other violence, any other victims of that person. By all accounts, the person appears to have been deranged.
“We will obviously wait for further reports from police in the region but it is a tragic expression of violent crime.”