A Winnipeg lawyer has been taken to hospital in critical condition, and a law office was evacuated, following the explosion of a bomb in the city's Fort Rouge neighbourhood on Friday morning.
Police confirmed that Maria Mitousis, 38, was injured in the explosion. Mitousis has worked at Petersen King, where she practises family law, since September 2014.
"I'm not sure exactly how this device came to be in her possession, whether it was mailed or dropped off or something like that," Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Eric Hofley said.
"However it came into her possession, it was an explosive device that was triggered inadvertently."
Crews were called to the Petersen King office at 252 River Ave., around 10:15 a.m. CT.
A converted transit bus, used for emergencies involving large numbers of people, was called to the scene, along with several police cars, fire trucks and the city's hazardous materials unit. The city's bomb unit was called and entered the building around 12:15 p.m.
Police said an officer who happened to be in the area arrived shortly after the call to find Mitousis suffering from serious upper-body injuries. Witnesses said they saw a woman being taken from the building.
"I went out and I see the woman coming out in a stretcher. She was covered in blood and everything on her face," said Denis Michel Thibeault.
Mitousis was taken to hospital in critical condition, police said, adding that they believe she is undergoing surgery.
The explosion damaged part of the law office.
Supt. Danny Smyth said investigators do not believe it was a random incident.
"Certainly we know she was in there on her own; we don't know if she was a specific target," he told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Smyth admitted that this case is not typical for Winnipeg.
"I've been a cop for nearly 30 years. We don't see a lot of bombings in our city," he said.
"It's a very unusual event, it's a very tragic event, but we'll certainly treat it as a crime and see where the investigation takes us."
Friends of Mitousis set up a GoFundMe page for the 38 year old Saturday.
Downtown building evacuated
Hours after crews were called to Peterson King, police said, a suspicious package was spotted at the Monk Goodwin law office on 444 St. Mary Ave., in the city's downtown.
Smyth confirmed that Mitousis used to work for Monk Goodwin. Employees there made that connection and decided to evacuate the building, he said.
People working at 444 St. Mary left the building around 12:30 p.m., according to police. The building contains three law firms, among other businesses. Several streets in the area were closed for part of the afternoon.
About 4:45 p.m., the police bomb squad entered the building.
Police originally said no suspicious packages had been delivered to the building, but they later confirmed something suspicious was found.
Radio-Canada reporter Louis-Philippe LeBlanc spoke with someone from the building who said officers did a sweep of the seventh, eighth and ninth floors. They have since been cleared.
Mitousis's romantic partner, Barry Gorlick, was also in the news on Friday when it was revealed that he has been disbarred.
Gorlick admitted to 15 counts of professional misconduct, including failing to serve a client and misappropriating funds.
- Winnipeg lawyer Barry Gorlick disbarred
- GO PUBLIC | Clients feel scammed as alleged lawyer misconduct kept quiet
He was a subject of a 2014 CBC Go Public investigation in which a client said she paid $5,000 for Gorlick to file a lawsuit, which was never filed.
Gorlick has never worked at Petersen King, the law firm where Friday's explosion took place, but he and Mitousis used to work at Monk Goodwin.
Police have not confirmed if Gorlick or Mitousis or anyone else was the intended target of the explosive device.
The Law Society of Manitoba sent its members the following notification regarding the explosion on Friday: