'I'm sick. I need a doctor,' man charged with murder of Red Deer physician tells court

A man charged with killing Red Deer, Alta., physician Dr. Walter Reynolds at a walk-in clinic told a judge Wednesday he is ill and doesn't recall details about the attack.

Deng Mabiour, 54, has been charged with first-degree murder

Dr. Walter Reynolds died in hospital after he was assaulted with a weapon at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

A man charged with killing a Red Deer doctor at a walk-in clinic told a judge Wednesday he is ill and doesn't recall details about the attack.

Deng Mabiour spoke to the court by telephone from his cell at the Red Deer Remand Centre, where he is being held in quarantine due to the pandemic. 

The court clerk read the charges and Judge W. Albert Skinner asked Mabiour if he understood them. 

"I don't remember everything in detail," he said. "When I get healthy, I will remember everything." 

Pressed by the judge, Mabiour said, "I didn't remember everything because I'm sick. I need a doctor." 

He then laughed. 

The matter was adjourned briefly to allow a defence lawyer to speak to Mabiour. 

When Mabiour was back on the phone, the judge told him, "You have to understand what you are charged with." 

Again the man repeated that he didn't understand because he is sick. 

Skinner advised him to contact legal aid to obtain a lawyer before his next court appearance on Sept. 9.

Walter Reynolds, 45, was attacked with a hammer and a machete on Monday morning inside the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic. He died later in hospital. 

Mabiour, 54, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with first-degree murder, assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer.

He has no known criminal record. 

Targeted and premeditated attack

RCMP have described the attack as targeted and premeditated.

Mabiour and Reynolds knew each other through the clinic, Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, commander of the Red Deer RCMP detachment, said during a news conference Tuesday.

"The individual went in with a goal, and so it wasn't a random attack," Grobmeier said. "The individual went into the clinic for that purpose.

"In 27 years of policing, I've never seen a doctor attacked like that."

Deng Mabiour has been charged with first-degree murder, assault with a weapon and assault. (Facebook)

Deng Wil Luol Deng, who lives in South Sudan but knows Mabiour from the South Sudanese community in Red Deer, said he is shocked by the allegations.

"I am very sorry and very sad about what happened," he said in a Facebook message to The Canadian Press.

"We still don't know why."

'The best colleague I ever had'

The doctor is being remembered as a kind practitioner, a devoted dad and a jokester.

Reynolds was "the best colleague I ever had," Dr. Edward Ohanjanians said Tuesday.

Ohanjanians said Reynolds was a founder of the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic where they both worked. Reynolds took care of all the clinic's shopping and scheduling.

The clinic, sandwiched in between a hair salon and a dollar store, remained cordoned off with yellow police tape.

Ohanjanians said he was at the clinic when Reynolds was attacked Monday morning. He was unable to talk about what happened.

"I witnessed the tragic death of my colleague and friend," he said. "It's a difficult time."

He was just a wonderful doctor who was so good to us.- Cecillia Ferris

There was a growing display of flowers and cards outside the clinic Tuesday. A medical face mask was tied to a lamp post among the bouquets.

Kristen York placed a smiling photo of Reynolds at the site. She said she snapped the picture before leaving her job at the clinic about a month ago.

"I took pictures of all the doctors and it was just to put on our TV screen so everybody could see which doctor was which," York said while brushing away tears.

"He was the most kind, loving person ever. He was a jokester. We always joked around. He was just very, very kind."

Cecilia and John Ferris were patients of Dr. Walter Reynolds for 15 years. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Cecilia Ferris and her husband John had been his patients for nearly 15 years and paid their respects at the makeshift memorial. 

The doctor spoke often of his family and cared deeply about his patients, she said. 

"He was just a wonderful doctor who was so good to us," she said.

"It's going to be a loss and I just can't believe, I can't believe the traumatic way he passed away."  

Dr. Peter Bouch, who works at another Red Deer clinic, said he and Reynolds were both part of a tight-knit community of doctors in the city who are originally from South Africa.

"He was always talking about his daughters," Bouch said. "He's always been very proud of his family and also proud of his medical practice and his patients."

Bouch said he has been in Canada for 26 years, Reynolds for less than that.

On its website, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta lists Reynolds as being registered to work in the province starting in 2006.

"Hearing about the loss of an Alberta physician under such shocking circumstances is devastating," the college's registrar, Dr. Scott McLeod, said in a statement.

"It's difficult to understand how or why such a tragedy could occur, especially in a care space and to someone who dedicated their life to helping others."

A memorial of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals was growing on Wednesday outside the Red Deer. Alta., walk-in clinic where Dr. Walter Reynolds was fatally attacked. (Travis McEwan/CBC)


Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

With files from Travis McEwan, Natasha Riebe, Wallis Snowdon and The Canadian Press