08/11/2020 11:29 EDT | Updated 08/11/2020 17:01 EDT

Man Charged With Murder As Red Deer Mourns Doctor Killed In Attack

The suspect had a hammer and a machete, a witness told the media.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press
The Village Mall walk-in clinic is seen here in Red Deer, Alta., on Monday as police worked at the scene. Premier Jason Kenney called the fatal incident "horrendous."

RED DEER, Alta. — RCMP say a fatal attack on a doctor at a busy walk-in clinic in central Alberta was targeted and pre-planned.

Deng Mabiour of Red Deer, Alta., is charged with 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 and was targeted. I want to recognize the many individuals that demonstrated bravery yesterday,” RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said Tuesday.

“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.

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.

The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh
Superintendent Gerald Grobmeier, Detachment Commander of the Red Deer RCMP, provides an update on the murder of Dr. Walter Reynolds, in Red Deer, Alta., on Aug. 11, 2020.

Grobmeier said there were 13 people in the clinic at that 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.

One officer was struck with a blunt weapon during the arrest 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.

He describes it as an isolated but extremely brazen crime.

“I am sickened to learn that a member of our community died in such a violent tragedy,” he said.

“My heart goes out to the family ... no one expects that.” 

Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro both tweeted that they were saddened to hear about the fatal attack on the doctor.

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.

Dr. Peter Bouch, who works at another Red Deer clinic, said members of the city’s medical community feel shaken.

He described Reynolds as a “very dedicated husband, father to two daughters, very dedicated physician ... just an all-around good guy really.”

Bouch said he and Reynolds were both part of a tight-knit community of doctors in Red Deer who are originally from South Africa.

“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 concerns from other physicians in the city about aggression from patients, though none of those cases have been as extreme as Reynolds’ slaying.

He said the aggression can’t be pinpointed to any one cause.

“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.” 

The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh
Former clinic employees Theresa Baldwin, left, and Kristen York, lay flowers at an impromptu memorial, for Dr. Walter Reynolds, who died after he was attacked in an examination room, outside the Village Mall walk-in clinic in Red Deer, Alta. on Aug. 11, 2020.

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for the education of Reynolds’ daughters. By early Tuesday afternoon, it had raised $80,000.

“He was a devout father to two amazing young daughters and a loving husband,” wrote fundraiser organizer Johan Myburgh.

“He loved to run, be healthy and, most of all, spend time with his family.”

Outside the clinic Tuesday was a growing display of flowers and cards, along with a photo of a smiling Reynolds.

“He will be truly missed by his wife and kids, co-workers and staff and all his patients. May you rest in peace,” read a message on the photo.

It was placed there by Kristen York, who took the picture before leaving her job at the clinic about a month ago.

“I took pictures of all the doctors and it was just to put on our TV screen so everybody could see which doctor was which. Once I heard about what happened yesterday, it was something I wanted to do ... to bring this picture here just in loving memory of him,” York said while brushing away tears.

“He was the most kind, loving person ever. He was a jokester. We always joked around. He was just very, very kind.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2020.