Three vigils are planned Friday evening for a family doctor who was killed at a walk-in clinic in central Alberta earlier this week.
Dr. Walter Reynolds, a 45-year-old father of two girls, died in hospital after he was attacked Monday morning at the Village Mall clinic in Red Deer.
Deng Mabiour, 54, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Reynolds, as well as assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer.
The Alberta Medical Association, which is organizing the vigils in Red Deer and Edmonton, is asking doctors who attend to wear white lab coats or white clothing to honour Reynolds.
The Calgary and Area Medical Staff Society is hosting a similar vigil in that city “in solidarity with our colleagues in Red Deer and Edmonton to honour our fallen comrade Dr. Walter Reynolds,” Dr. Scott F. Beach said.
Police have said Mabiour and Reynolds knew each other through the clinic, but did not say whether Mabiour was a patient.
One witness told media that she heard cries for help and a man in the clinic had a hammer and a machete.
Police have released few details about the man accused of killing Reynolds, but an acquaintance of Mabiour said the 54-year-old came to Canada from South Sudan.
Deng Wil Luol Deng, who lives in South Sudan but knows Mabiour from the community in Red Deer, said earlier this week he was shocked by the allegations.
The Sudanese Community of Central Alberta said in a statement Friday that they “strongly condemn the senseless killing of our friend, citizen and loving doctor.”
“We want the family of Dr. Reynolds to know that we are deeply sorry for your loss, and we share in your pain,” said the statement signed by the community group’s chairman, Justin Jukeria.
“Dr. Reynolds was one of the best doctors in our beloved city of Red Deer.
“He was a fabulous and loving physician who has served our community and the wider Red Deer community with integrity, care, compassion, selflessness and dignity.”
The group said they are keen to know what allegedly transpired between Reynolds and Mabiour, adding that they strongly believe in the Canadian legal system.
Mabiour appeared in court via video Wednesday, saying he “doesn’t remember” and is sick and needs a doctor. His case was put over to September.
The clinic where Reynolds worked has described him as a devoted husband, father and doctor who came to Canada from South Africa in 2003.
Reynolds and his wife, Anelia, first lived in Manitoba then moved to Red Deer in 2006, said a statement from the Village Mall clinic.
“From the delivery room to the hospice, he dedicated himself 100 per cent,” the statement said.
“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.”
Reynolds and his wife were often seen jogging around the neighbourhood. He was an avid runner, often participating in marathons and mud races, the clinic said.
“If there was a campsite to explore, then they were there. Always exploring, always an adventure, always on the move … so full of life.”
The Red Deer Primary Care Network shared a statement from Reynolds’ wife Friday.
“The girls and I would like to thank the community for their outpouring of support for our great loss. We ask for privacy during this tragic time,” Anelia said.
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for the education of Reynolds’ children. It reached more than $250,000 Friday morning.
The vigils, scheduled for 7 p.m., are to take place outside Red Deer City Hall, Edmonton City Hall and at Central Park across from the Sheldon Chumir Health Care Centre in Calgary.
With files from Emily Mertz, Global News