A man accused of killing a family doctor at a walk-in clinic in central Alberta appeared confused at his first court appearance, saying he doesn’t remember and is sick.
The 54-year-old appeared via a video link but wasn’t able to tell the judge if he understood the charges laid against him.
“Listen to me. I don’t remember anything because I’m sick. I want a doctor,” Mabiour, with a heavy accent, told provincial court Judge Bert Skinner.
“I’m telling you I didn’t remember anything because I am sick.”
Skinner ordered the duty counsel to speak with Mabiour by phone. The charges were then read a second time.
“Did you understand the charges?” asked the judge.
“No, I didn’t understand,” Mabiour replied. “Because I am sick. I lost memory. Listen to me, I don’t remember. I want a doctor.”
Mabiour continued talking as the judge and lawyers spoke.
Skinner said a first-degree murder charge that goes to trial is automatically put before a jury.
The case was put over to Sept. 9.
RCMP have said the attack was not random and the two men knew each other through the clinic. They have not said if Mabiour was a patient, citing confidentiality.
Officers received a 911 call reporting an assault in progress at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic just after 11 a.m. Monday. Mounties arrived within minutes.
One witness told media that she heard cries for help and a man in the clinic had a hammer and a machete.
Mabiour was arrested at the scene. Reynolds was rushed to hospital, where he died.
“In 27 years of policing I’ve never seen a doctor attacked like that,” RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said at a news conference Tuesday.
The attack in broad daylight in a medical clinic shocked many physicians.
“I think a lot of them are looking over their shoulder today and are quite anxious,” said Dr. Peter Bouch, who works at a different Red Deer clinic. Both he and Reynolds were originally from South Africa.
Bouch said physicians need to speak to the mayor and RCMP to figure out how to make exam rooms and offices safer.
In her COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health echoed those comments.
“We are all shaken by this tragic event,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “I imagine that, though this was an isolated incident, it leaves a mark on all health-care professionals as we wonder about the safety of our own workplaces and the individualized patient care that is the bedrock of our professions.”
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Hinshaw encouraged anyone struggling with the attack to reach out for guidance.
Grobmeier said RCMP are willing to consult with doctors if they want to enhance safety protocols but he said attacks like this are rare.
“You just can’t overreact. This is devastating. There’s no doubt about it but this also is not the norm,” he said.
“I do want to assure the public that they are safe. This was not a random attack.”
A vigil for Reynolds has been planned for Friday night at city hall.