WARNING: The details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
Edmonton police say a mother appeared to be moments from death when officers rushed in to stop an attack Wednesday afternoon.
A 30-year-old man is facing several charges, including aggravated assault, in connection to the violent attack on a woman who was picking up her three children from a central Edmonton daycare, police said in a news release Friday.
The woman was standing outside the Seven Stones daycare and out-of-school care on 111 Street near 105 Avenue, waiting for the front door to be unlocked at around 3:45 p.m., when police said she was approached by a man she didn’t know.
It was reported to police that a man — believed to be impaired — attempted to forcibly pull a backpack off the woman’s shoulders.
Police said she held onto the backpack, as the suspect unzipped it and attempted to reach inside.
The two then began to struggle, and police said the man allegedly grabbed the woman’s hair and threw her down, repeatedly smashing her head against the sidewalk.
Police were already in the area, responding to a different call allegedly involving the same man trying to break into vehicles in the area.
“Two of our members spotted the male suspect choking the woman on the ground and rushed to her aid,” Insp. Erik Johnson said.
Officers came across the struggle, arriving to find the suspect sitting on top of the woman while allegedly strangling her into unconsciousness.
“Another two minutes and we may have been talking about a homicide today.
“The incident in itself is extremely disturbing and was exacerbated by the fact two of her young children watched the entire incident through the front door of the daycare,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the suspect admitted to police he was high on methamphetamine at the time “and that definitely played a part in his behaviour.”
“This lady was in the right place but unfortunately at the wrong time, and I think he was just so high on methamphetamine that he would have attacked anybody that he could have made some money off.”
Police said daycare staff saw the attack happening, but for the sake of the safety of the children inside, kept the doors locked and did not go out to intervene.
Paramedics treated and transported the woman to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police said she has since been released from hospital.
Johnson said victim services has been helping the family after the six- and eight-year-old children witnessed their mom being attacked.
“That’s never an easy thing for a kid to see.”
There have been several attacks on Black and Muslim women in Edmonton this past year— however Johnson said this was a crime of opportunity, not one motivated by hate.
“It could have been anybody in that same position,” he said of the victim.
Rockie Rabbit, 30, has been charged with aggravated assault, choking to overcome resistance, robbery and breaching his conditions.
A court check showed he was under an order to “not be found intoxicated by controlled drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substances in a public place.”
Rabbit was also on conditions following another assault in Calgary last summer.