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'Not a random attack:' Man charged with killing doctor at Alberta medical clinic

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RED DEER, Alta. — A man accused of killing a family doctor had a plan and a target in mind when he showed up at a walk-in clinic in central Alberta, RCMP said Tuesday.

Deng Mabiour of Red Deer, Alta., faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Dr. Walter Reynolds, a 45-year-old father of two.

The 54-year-old suspect is also charged with assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer.

"This was not a random attack," RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier told a news conference.

Many of the 13 people who were in the clinic at the time showed bravery during the violence, he added.

"Dr. Reynolds' colleagues as well as members of the public in the clinic acted quickly to come to the aid of the victim and to minimize harm to others."

Grobmeier said RCMP received a 911 call reporting an assault in progress at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic just after 11 a.m. Monday. Officers arrived within minutes.

Reynolds was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Grobmeier would not say what weapons were used in the slaying, but a witness told media outlets that a man had a machete and hammer.

Mabiour was arrested at the scene. He is to appear in court Wednesday.

Grobmeier said Reynolds and Mabiour knew each other through the clinic. The officer would not say whether the accused was a patient, citing confidentiality.

He also declined to discuss a possible motive to ensure Mabiour receives a fair trial.

Grobmeier said he could provide no details on whether mental illness or intoxication were factors. He said Mabiour was not previously known to police.

Deng Wil Luol Deng, who lives in South Sudan but knows Mabiour from the South Sudanese community in Red Deer, said he is shocked by the allegations.

"I am very sorry and very sad about what happened," he said in a Facebook message to The Canadian Press.

"We still don't know why."

During the arrest, one officer was struck with a blunt weapon and was treated for minor injuries, Grobmeier added.

"Obviously he's struggling emotionally with what happened yesterday, so that officer is at home recovering." 

Court documents detailing the charges against Mabiour say he is accused of carrying, using or threatening to use a "machete or an imitation" against Dr. Stephen Nel, another physician listed as working at the clinic.

Grobmeier said that doctor was not physically harmed.

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for the education of Reynolds' young daughters. By Tuesday afternoon, it had raised $94,000.

There was a growing display of flowers and cards, along with a photo of a smiling Reynolds, outside the clinic. A medical face mask was tied to a lamp post among the bouquets.

"To friends and colleagues. We stand with you. Praying for all," said one written message.

Dr. Peter Bouch, who works at another Red Deer clinic, said he and Reynolds were both part of a tight-knit community of doctors in the city who are originally from South Africa.

He described Reynolds as a dedicated physican and "all-around good guy."

"It's a shock to the whole of Red Deer, not only to the physicians, but also to the many medical staff that work in our clinics," he said. 

"And I think a lot of them are looking over their shoulder today and are quite anxious."

Bouch said he has heard from other physicians concerned about aggression from patients, though none of those cases have been nearly as extreme as Reynolds' slaying.

"I think some of us need to speak to the mayor and we need to speak to the RCMP and try and figure out a way of making our exam rooms, our offices, a safe place — both for patients and for ourselves."

— With files from Lauren Krugel in Calgary and Daniela Germano in Edmonton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 11, 2020

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press




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