Winnipeg police allege Guido Amsel targeted three women — his divorce lawyer, his ex-wife, and her lawyer — with mail bombs as an act of revenge following a lengthy divorce battle.
The 49-year-old has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault after three bombs were discovered in recent days.
In court documents police describe the bombs, which were contained in small voice recorders, as being "sophisticated."
Lawyer Maria Mitousis, 38, was seriously injured when a bomb went off at her River Avenue office on Friday. She used to represent Amsel's ex-wife, Iris Amsel, in divorce proceedings that began in 2004.
A package intended for the ex-wife was intercepted by police and detonated Saturday at a business on Washington Avenue. No one was injured.
CBC News has also learned a third woman, a Winnipeg lawyer who once represented Amsel and used to work for Orle Bargen and Davidson on Stradbrook Avenue, was also targeted.
The bomb unit detonated an explosive device at that firm's office Sunday and no one was injured.
Police are urging anyone who had dealings with Amsel in the past to be on alert for suspicious packages.
Emergency crews busy
Mayor Brian Bowman and police Chief Devon Clunis described the past few days in Winnipeg as "harrowing" and "unnerving."
"The events that started on Friday are harrowing," Bowman said at a press conference. "The impact of these acts is far-reaching in our community and we're thinking of all."
Both he and Clunis offered thoughts and prayers to Mitousis.
"The last few days have been difficult for our city, particularly so for Mrs. Maria Mitousis, her loved ones, colleagues and friends," Clunis said.
"We also want to thank the people of Winnipeg for their support throughout this incredible ordeal. We know how difficult it is to see a downtown office building evacuated [and] we know sometimes it is incredibly unnerving to see your neighbours asked to leave their homes."
Acting deputy police chief Danny Smyth said Mitousis's condition has stabilized and she has been able to speak with investigators.
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Over the weekend, police blocked off streets and searched homes and businesses in various parts of the city.
That continued Monday with a downtown Canada Post building surrounded, evacuated and the bomb unit brought in. Not long after, city hall was evacuated due to a suspicious package.
Both cases were deemed to be false alarms, but they reflect the heightened sensitivity in the city. Smyth has said other packages may have been sent to other law firms or justice officials who had dealings with Amsel.
"Clearly, we don't know how many packages may have been sent out," he said. "We don't think this is a blanketed threat to the general public or to the justice system in general."
- Friday, July 3
Investigation begins after Maria Mitousis injured by blast at Peterson King law firm around 10:15 a.m. CT.
Three floors of a downtown office building at 444 St. Mary evacuated around 12:30 p.m. CT. The building contains three law firms, among other businesses. One of the law firms, Monk Goodwin, is where Mitousis formerly worked. Building searched and cleared by police bomb unit with the assistance of RCMP. No suspicious items or packages found.
- Saturday, July 4
Police called to a business in the 500 block of Washington Avenue at about 2 p.m. CT. A suspicious package was addressed to Amsel's ex-wife, who owns the business.
At about 10:30 p.m., the bomb unit used a water cannon to attempt to defuse it but the device went off, causing damage to the business. Nobody was injured.
Amsel was arrested at his home on Pandora Avenue East in the evening.
- Sunday, July 5
Searches conducted in the afternoon by investigators and bomb unit personnel at an automotive business on Springfield Road, owned by Amsel, as well as the suspect's home.
While investigators were dealing with those searches, police were alerted to another suspicious package at Orle Bargen and Davidson law firm on Stradbrook. Bomb unit personnel were sent there and located an explosive device sent through the mail.
The device was removed from the office and detonated outside of the building at about 9:45 p.m. CT. There were no injuries.
Police said lawyers who formerly worked at that firm had represented Amsel in past legal proceedings.