A witness to a fatal attack at a central Alberta medical clinic says the victim was her family doctor, and while Mounties refused to confirm the victim’s identity they condemned the killing and praised the quick response from police.
“I am sickened to learn that a member of our community died in such a violent tragedy,” Supt. Gerald Grobmeier told a news conference late Monday.
“Our heart breaks for the victim’s family and friends, and I offer my sincere condolences to all those who are grieving this evening.”
Grobmeier said a suspect was arrested at the scene and remained in custody, but that charges were still pending. Police are not seeking any other suspects and say the community is not in danger.
The assault happened at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer just before noon on Monday.
Anina Mullin said she was waiting in the lobby of the clinic with her 13-year-old daughter when they heard a commotion.
“We heard banging and then, ‘Help Me! Help Me! Call 911! Call 911!'” Mullin told rdnewsNOW.
“That was the doctor screaming, yelling. One of the receptionists ran to the door. It was at the far end of the walk-in clinic and she came running back like she had seen a ghost and was like, ‘Can someone help him?'”
Mullin said two larger men nearby sprang into action to assist. They came back quickly, telling everyone to get out.
“I grabbed my teenage daughter’s hand and we just ran as fast as we could out the doors. Once we got outside, we got into the truck and waited. And she’s like, ‘Mom can we go?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m too shaken. I can’t.”
Mullin said the two men who had helped stood at the clinic door and held it shut until police arrived.
“The one police officer went to the door and opened the door and had his gun drawn and he yelled, ‘Put it down, put it down or I will shoot you!'” said Mullin.
“At that time, a hammer flew at the police officer and bashed into the door and then flew outside. It was drenched in blood … like you couldn’t see any metal on it. It was just covered in blood.”
Mullin said the officer then ordered someone to ‘put down the machete’ and went inside. He was quickly joined by other officers, who brought out the suspect in handcuffs.
“He was wearing a hooded sweater with his hood up,” said Mullin.
“He had blood all around the rim of his sleeves and large clothes. From there, the ambulances came and they all rushed in with medical bags and a stretcher … they also brought out the other patients I assume were in the other waiting rooms along with two other doctors and a bunch of nurses.”
After that, Mullin said her doctor was brought out on a stretcher.
RdnewsNOW is not naming the physician. RCMP would not say if the victim was a doctor.
Grobmeier said one of the responding officers was hit with a “blunt weapon” and suffered minor injuries. He said the officer then disarmed the suspect without further incident.
He said police were at the scene with two to three minutes of the initial call and had the suspect in custody within five minutes.
“This was an extremely quick response time and likely prevented further tragedy.” Grobmeier said, praising the bravery of the officer who disarmed the suspect.
He said no firearms were discharged.
Grobemeier said police weren’t releasing information about the victim, whether the attack was targeted or what weapon was used in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. However, he said the investigation was moving rapidly and that charges against the suspect are anticipated.
Dr. Christine Molnar, president of the Alberta Medical Association, said in a statement that the organization will be reaching out to local medical staff for support.
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.
“Can’t imagine the pain and sorrow his family and clinic staff are now going through,” Kenney said. “On behalf of all Albertans, our deepest condolences go out to them.”
Shandro said his thoughts and prayers are with all staff and patients who witnessed the attack.
Mullin said she had “never” seen anything quite as horrific as that attack.
“It’s definitely affected my daughter. It’s hard to get out of your mind,” she said. “I don’t know if I could ever go back into that clinic. It’s awful.” (rdnewsNOW)
— With files from Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Bill Graveland in Calgary
Sheldon Spackman and Troy Gillard, rdnewsNOW, The Canadian Press
© The Canadian Press