A 44-year-old man who is known to Edmonton police has been charged after three hate-motivated attacks involving women in south Edmonton this winter.
The first attack happened the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 18 at a convenience store on the east end of Whyte Avenue.
It was reported to police that a man uttered racially motivated threats at a 43-year-old Black woman outside of the store near 91 Street and 82 Avenue.
The man allegedly followed the woman back inside the store, where police said he assaulted her. The accused fled the store on foot before police arrived, and the woman did not require medical attention.
The other two incidents happened on the same day in the University of Alberta and Whyte Avenue areas.
The first of that day took place on Wednesday, Feb. 3, around 12:15 p.m. at the U of A Transit Centre, where a 19-year-old woman wearing a hijab was waiting inside when she was reportedly approached by an unknown man making racial comments.
Police said the suspect allegedly became more aggressive towards the woman, “posturing as though he was about to assault her.” An ETS employee became involved and the accused ran away.
The second incident happened 30 minutes later, about 12 blocks east near 100 Street and 82 Avenue. Police said a 27-year-old Black woman wearing a burka was walking on the sidewalk alone when an unknown man ran across the road, stopping in front of the woman and blocking her.
The suspect allegedly began swearing and yelling insults at the woman, before leaving and crossing the street. The woman thought the suspect was gone and continued walking east, crossing 99 Street.
Police said the suspect returned, coming up behind the woman and pushing her, while making threats to kill her and tear off her burka. The man then left the area.
The EPS hate crimes and violent extremism unit (HCVEU) arrested and charged 44-year-old Shane Edward Tremblay of Edmonton with three counts of uttering threats and three counts of assault.
“The actions of this individual have traumatized these three women and created a significant level of fear in our community,” said Sgt. Gary Willits, of the EPS hate crimes and violent extremism unit.
Willits said police were grateful to Edmonton Transit Service officials, the University of Alberta protective services, businesses along Whyte Avenue and the convenience store staff, “all of whom played an instrumental role in identifying our suspect, who is well-known to police and ETS for multiple related incidents over the last few years.”
The hate crime unit is also recommending Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in this case, which allows the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by hatred.
The charges against Tremblay come amid several other “hate-motivated incidents” this winter against Black people: one in the Parkdale neighbourhood in central Edmonton, another at the Southgate Transit Centre and a third in the parking lot of the nearby Southgate Centre mall.
Three other people — a woman and two men — have been charged in those attacks.
So far in 2021, three hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women.