A Leduc girl is being remembered as one of a kind after she was fatally stabbed at a high school in the community just south of Edmonton on Monday.
Jennifer Winkler, 17, died after she was stabbed by a fellow student inside Christ the King School Monday morning.
The suspect left the school after the attack but was arrested without incident in a nearby neighbourhood at 12:20 p.m.
On Tuesday, police announced Dylan Thomas Pountney, 19, is facing one count of first-degree murder. Police said on Monday the two students knew each other, but didn’t say how.
Despite multiple rumours claiming the victim and suspect were related, the father of the young man now charged with murder is adamant the two were not.
Nathan Pountney, Dylan’s father, said the two knew each other from growing up in the community and the two families lived in the same neighbourhood at one point.
“It’s a terrible thing and I feel terrible for the family who lost a daughter,” Nathan said Tuesday afternoon.
“I have no words, really. How does someone react to this?”
Police were called to Christ the King School shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, where Winkler was reportedly stabbed by a fellow student in a classroom.
STARS Air Ambulance landed beside the school and airlifted Winkler in critical condition to the University of Alberta Hospital, where she died from her injuries.
Winkler’s family created a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of her funeral. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $30,000, surpassing its $15,000 goal.
Classes were cancelled at the Christ the King School on Tuesday, but Charlie Bouchard, superintendent for the STAR Catholic School Division, said a number of students still came to the school to access counselling supports. Staff members also accessed the supports in place, Bouchard said.
“We have spoken to a number of staff,” he said. “I was on site this morning and we began with a meeting and prayer. Staff are on a variety of stages of their grieving, but they are struggling. Obviously some staff were not on site, they chose to stay home today and we support that.”
Boucher said it’s too early to determine what steps may need to be taken next, saying right now it’s about supporting staff and students.
“She was one of a kind,” 16-year-old Mackenzie, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, said of Winkler.
Mackenzie went to a different school but said she met Winkler, called Jenny by her pals, through mutual friends. She said Winkler helped her get through a difficult time.
“She was definitely somebody that you could trust with anything.
“Everybody’s just overwhelmed with all this. I was sick to my stomach. She is just one of the sweetest girls. She really liked art.”
Classmates came to the school on Tuesday to lay flowers outside one of the doors.
Dylan Labossiere – a Grade 11 student – described Winkler as “very nice.”
He was in class on Monday when the lockdown was called at around 9:40 a.m. He was joined by two other friends Tuesday to come honour Winkler and check on other classmates.
“We wanted to see if everyone was OK and make sure that everyone is fine.”
Morgan Noel was with Labossiere on Tuesday. Noel is doing online schooling and had just wrapped up a session with his teacher when he was texted about the stabbing.
He lives close to the school and saw STARS land and take off again.
“It’s just horrible.”
Matthew Oliver also joined his friends to pay his respects Tuesday. He is also doing online schooling right now, but called the event “disturbing” and something you don’t expect to see in a small community like Leduc.
“We’re a community. There’s not much else to it. I’ve known these people for years, for the majority of my life. I know these people. They’re my friends, they’re basically my family and you have to support them. They were very close to this.”
For him, it was important to come honour Winkler.
“You’ve got to remember her as best you can. I brought flowers and a couple other people brought stuff,” Oliver said. “I’m sure she’ll be remembered. Nobody is ever going to forget about her.”
All three boys said they didn’t know Pountney. They said he was new and most students didn’t know him.
The three said they have gone to school with Winkler since Grade 7.
Roux Royer, a friend of Pountney, said he went to school Tuesday to speak to a counsellor and to support an art teacher who was struggling with Winkler’s death.
Royer said he spoke to Pountney just last week.
“We hung out every day, but he was one of those friends that we didn’t get into life stuff too much, because both of our lives were pretty, pretty hectic at that point.”
Nathan Pountney said his son has struggled with mental health issues in the past, but had been making strides. He was attending the school to upgrade his marks and had recently been accepted to the military.
“I am totally shocked,” he said.
“This is completely shocking and out of the blue and I’m just stunned. My eyes are dry from crying so much today and yesterday. It’s quite a shock.”
Court records show Pountney had been previously charged with one count of mischief for causing damage to windows and walls belonging to his father in January 2020.
In July 2020, the 19-year-old was charged with one count of assault with a weapon against his father. Both charges were withdrawn.
Pountney remains in custody and was scheduled to appear in an Edmonton court on Tuesday.
— With files from Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press