Olive Garden employee repeatedly stabbed in 'unprovoked and random' attack at Winnipeg restaurant: police

An 18-year-old woman was rushed to hospital in unstable condition Thursday evening after being repeatedly stabbed in what police described as a random attack at an Olive Garden restaurant.

27-year-old man arrested following Thursday night attack on 18-year-old woman at Transcona restaurant

A black and white police cruiser sits parked in front of the windows of a restaurant at night.
A police cruiser sits outside the Olive Garden in Transcona on Thursday, June 8, 2023. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

An 18-year-old woman was rushed to hospital in unstable condition Thursday evening after being repeatedly stabbed in what Winnipeg police described as a random attack at a Transcona area restaurant.

Police allege Robert Alan Ingram, 27, was at the Olive Garden restaurant at the corner of Reenders Drive and Lagimodiere Boulevard for about an hour before he allegedly attacked the woman, a restaurant employee, without provocation "and repeatedly stabbed her in the upper body," Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Const. Claude Chancy said at a Friday news conference.

The victim, whom police did not name, had serious upper-body stab wounds and got emergency medical aid from bystanders before officers arrived around 8 p.m., Chancy said. She was rushed to hospital in unstable condition and later upgraded to stable.

The woman and the alleged attacker did not know each other, Chancy said. He added the incident was witnessed "by many, many people" at the restaurant and was likely traumatic for them.

Ingram ran out of the restaurant before officers arrived, Chancy said. They found him nearby on Regent Avenue and arrested him after what Chancy said was a brief struggle.

A sharp-edged weapon, believed to be used in the attack, was found in his possession, Chancy said. It is believed the knife wasn't from the restaurant, but was brought there by Ingram, he said.

The 27-year-old is now charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and failing to comply with a probation order, police said.

A young man with short, light hair in a blue shirt smiles.
Robert Alan Ingram, 27, is accused of stabbing a worker at a Winnipeg Olive Garden restaurant in what police have described as a random, unprovoked attack. (Rob Ingram/Facebook)

Police investigators are looking into what happened leading up to the attack, but at this point there's nothing indicating any type of discussion took place, Chancy said.

"We know for a fact that it was unprovoked and random in nature," he said. "That's what's so alarming about it — it's alarming that it just happened so fast." 

In an emailed statement, Olive Garden confirmed the woman who was stabbed is an employee, and said the chain is "thankful that our team member is expected to make a full recovery."

The restaurant's Friday morning statement also expressed gratitude "to the first responders who responded so quickly, and for the efforts of local law enforcement in apprehending the suspect."

It also said Olive Garden is focused "on supporting our injured team member and all team members in the restaurant." Counselling is available to all staff through the employee assistance program, the statement added.

Past charges

Court records show Ingram has been in and out of jail over the last few years, after pleading guilty to offences including arson, theft and mischief.

In May 2020, he was accused of setting 14 fires over a three-day span. Ingram later pleaded guilty to two of those incidents, both involving vehicles in parking lots. The remaining charges were stayed.

Marion Willis, the executive director of Morberg House, said Ingram first came to the transitional residence for men that she runs in early 2019.

Willis said the man accused in the restaurant stabbing is socially withdrawn, and has struggled with methamphetamine addiction and mental health issues, including delusions.

WATCH | Police provide details about Olive Garden stabbing:

Woman repeatedly stabbed at Winnipeg Olive Garden restaurant

4 months ago
Duration 2:26
A man is in custody after what Winnipeg police call a 'random, unprovoked' stabbing at a Transcona restaurant. The attack left a young woman with serious injuries.

She said last time Ingram was hospitalized, her staff tried to urge the hospital not to discharge him, warning that they feared "he's going to kill somebody."

"This was a young man in desperate need of psychiatric evaluation and long-term clinical psychology services that he could never get."

Willis said since Ingram first came to Morberg House, the organization's staff and the man's family have tried without success to get him those services, by attempting to have him admitted to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.

A woman with grey hair and red glasses does an interview.
Marion Willis, executive director of Morberg House, says Ingram is socially withdrawn and has struggled with methamphetamine addiction and mental health issues. He first came to the transitional residence for men that she runs in early 2019, Willis said. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

"What we see today is the outcome of a system, a mental health system that just either couldn't or wouldn't respond," she said.

Willis said she has spoken with Ingram's mother, and both women's thoughts are with the victim of Thursday's attack.

At Friday's news conference, Chancy would not comment on whether Ingram was under the influence of any substances at the time of Thursday's attack.

He remains in custody on the charges related to the stabbing.

Anyone with information on the stabbing is asked to call police at 204-986-6219, or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477 or online.

With files from Brittany Greenslade