The doctor killed in a violent attack in Red Deer on Monday has been identified as Walter Reynolds.
RCMP were called to the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic just after 11 a.m. after reports of an attack with a weapon. Around 12:30 p.m., police issued a news release saying the incident was being investigated as a homicide and the Major Crimes Unit had been called in to help.
Witnesses reported hearing a doctor yelling for help before a receptionist said the doctor was being attacked. Those in the waiting room fled the office while two patients held the doors closed so the suspect couldn’t escape.
Police arrived shortly after and took a man into custody.
A GoFundMe account set up for the family of the man killed identified him as Walter Reynolds.
“His friends, colleagues and community mourns an exceptional human being lost too soon,” the fundraiser said. “We all are devastated and heartbroken.”
According to the page, Reynolds was the father of two young daughters and was a “devout father… and a loving husband.”
According to page organizer Johan Myburgh, Reynolds was the father of two young daughters and was a “devout father … and a loving husband.”
Any funds raised will be used for his daughters’ education, the fundraiser said.
The fundraiser has far surpassed its $20,000 goal, with over $155,000 raised as of 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
A statement sent to Global News from Myburgh said that Reynolds and his wife Anelia moved to Canada in 2003, before moving again in 2006 to Red Deer from Manitoba so Reynolds could work at the Village Mall clinic.
“Walter was known for many things,” the statement read. “He was sharp witted, a devoted husband, and an amazing dad for his two beautiful young daughters. He was passionate in life.”
Myburgh said Reynolds was an avid runner, taking part in marathons and mud runs.
“He would be frequently seen jogging with his wife around the neighbourhood or sweating it out at the gym. If there was a campsite to explore, then they were there. Always exploring. Always on an adventure. Always on the move … so full of life.”
Myburgh said Reynolds gave his patients the same energy and dedication he put into life.
“He dedicated himself 100 per cent. If there was a task at work that needed to be done, he would step up to the plate. If a patient needed help, he walked the extra mile … and then some.
“How do you process the loss of a friend that always organized camping trips and entertainment for the kids? Who made a telephone tag team to ensure tickets for everyone to attend the daddy-daughter dance? How do you comfort a wife whose soulmate was ripped from her? How do you replace a dad’s presence in the lives of two little girls next to the fastball field, at the swim meet, or the dance recital? We can’t.”
‘He was just amazing’
Anina Mullin and her 13-year-old daughter were in the waiting room when the attack happened.
“He took care of us, that’s for sure,” she said of Reynolds.
“He is loyal. He remembered you.
“He would talk to the girls like he was their uncle. And he was just amazing.”
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According to Mullin, Reynolds was the type of doctor the community trusted. He was the only doctor her husband would see.
“Like most men, they don’t want to go see the doctor. And my husband was totally OK with going and seeing him.”
“Dr. Reynolds is a kind, compassionate, caring individual who put himself out there and cared about his patients,” patient Joanne Hudson said. “He didn’t just come to work, he came for us as our community and now we’re heartbroken that he’s gone.
“He was our hero.”
Mullin said her daughter had been talking to her friends and most of them saw Reynolds as their family doctor.
“It’s that community area,” she said. “All of them were really, really upset to hear it.”
“Our whole community is devastated by this loss,” Hudson said. “Our whole community. It’s just so sad.”
Kristen York worked at the clinic and with Reynolds for about a year. She remembered him as a kind, loving person.
“He was a jokester,” she said. “We always made jokes with each other. And he cared about all of his patients, he cared about everybody.
“He liked to work out. He loved his kids, he loved his wife, he talked highly of them every day.”
Teresa Baldwin is another former employee of the clinic. She said Reynolds was a wonderful person who was always trying to lift people up.
“I don’t think I ever saw him really get angry,” she said. “He cared a lot and went, I think, the extra mile for his patients and made sure that they were looked after and he just, he loved life as well as his daughters.”
In a statement, the Red Deer Primary Care Network said it was “heartbroken” over Reyonlds’ death.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends, patients and colleagues. This is a great loss to our PCN family,” executive director Lorna Milovich said. “We are encouraging our staff and physicians to access the mental health support available to them.
“We are a strong and caring community and we know by pulling together we will get through this difficult time.”
Kim Laviolette came by the clinic on Tuesday to lay some flowers at a growing memorial. She told Global News Reynolds’ was her daughter’s doctor.
“This is such a horrible… it’s a senseless horrific act, it shouldn’t have happened, it should not have happened.”
A candlelit vigil is scheduled for Reynolds for Friday at Red Deer City Hall at 7 p.m.
While making an announcement in Camrose on Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney extended his condolences.
“Just terrible news and everybody’s hearts and minds go out to the family and the loved ones and the co-workers of that physician,” he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the colleagues, family, loved ones and friends of the physician who was attacked yesterday.
RCMP provided an update on their investigation on Tuesday.
“This was not a random attack and was targeted,” Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said.
The suspect has been identified as 54-year-old Deng Mabiour.
He remains in custody and has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, assault of a police officer and assault with a weapon.
“Through the charge of first-degree murder, it means it was premeditated,” Grobmeier said of the attack. “So, there was an individual went in with a goal. So it wasn’t a random attack. The individual went into the clinic for that purpose.”
Grobmeier said Mabiour and Reynolds knew each other through the clinic and that there was a motive for the attack, but wouldn’t expand further.
“That is something that needs to come out through the court process and not at this time. We have to ensure the individual has a fair trial.”
According to Grobmeier, Mabiour does not have a criminal record.
“We have no history with this individual.”
A court check performed by Global News shows only the charges laid in relation to this event.
Grobmeier said police were called at 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday to a 911 call about an assault in progress. He says officers arrived two to three minutes later and had the suspect in custody within five minutes.
Once police arrived, they found Reynolds suffering from life-threatening injuries. Grobmeier said the doctor died later at hospital.
The assault of a police officer charge comes after an officer was hit with a blunt object. Witnesses reported seeing the suspect throw a hammer, but Grobmeier wouldn’t confirm what the object was, but said the officer was doing well.
“The officer is physically fine. He’s sore, obviously, from being hit but no major injuries,” he said. “Obviously he’s struggling emotionally with what happened yesterday, so that officer is at home recovering.”
No other doctors or patients were injured in the attack, but Grobmeier encouraged any colleagues or patients of Reynolds’, or witnesses to the crime, to reach out to Red Deer victim services at 403-306-2345 for support.
“Grieving is going to be important whether you knew that person or not, whether you attended that clinic or not. This is a difficult time for everybody. It’s not abnormal to grieve, it’s normal. So don’t fight it.”
Mabiour is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday.
– With a file from Heide Pearson, Global News