'I don't really feel safe': RRC students react to rash of stabbings in Exchange District

One man stabbed six people in Winnipeg's Exchange District and he's now under arrest, Winnipeg police say.

Man arrested after 6 attacks over 3-week period near downtown Red River College campus

Students react to rash of stabbings in Exchange District

6 years ago
Duration 1:28
One man stabbed six people in Winnipeg's Exchange District and he's now under arrest, Winnipeg police say.

Carissa Nagtegaal says she was shaken after hearing that two students at the Red River College Princess Street campus were targeted during a recent rash of stabbings — and says she doesn't think the area is as safe as it used to be.

The business student said there has been a difference in the area since the police headquarters moved last June. It used to be right across the street from the campus.

A 21-year-old man who police allege stabbed six people over a three-week period in Winnipeg's Exchange District was arrested on Monday, charged with numerous counts of assault, possession of a weapon, robbery and uttering threats.

Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said they were all unprovoked attacks.

The violence, which involved at least two students targeted for their phones on Jan. 13 and 27, prompted college officials to step up security at the Exchange District campus.

'Unacceptable' that someone entered the campus

Nagtegaal said when police were always coming and going in the area she felt safe. Now, that's changed. She was assaulted at her bus stop two weeks ago, she said, in front of the Centennial Concert Hall just a few blocks away.

"He was shoving me up against the glass and it was horrible, and I have to walk back to the same bus stop every day and I don't really feel safe. A lot of my friends feel the same way about it," she said.

Red River College is adding more security cameras and foot patrols after two of its students were robbed and stabbed. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Creative communications student Jonathan Pirrie said he's happy with how the school handled the incidents but thinks the college could do even more to make students feel safe. 

"That's unacceptable that someone did enter the campus and hurt a student here when you are supposed to be here studying, feeling safe inside your college," he said. 

"We have swipe cards at the entrance for a reason and maybe the doors need to lock a bit earlier."

Jonathan Pirrie said the school acted quickly and let students know what was happening, but he thinks more can be done to improve security to prevent future attacks. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Shelter clients traumatized by attack

Three of the stabbings happened Monday night, with two men stabbed outside Siloam Mission in the early evening while waiting to enter for dinner, and then another attack several hours later. 

The attack at Siloam Mission left the facility's other clients shaken. 

"Emotions are running high and some of the people that weren't even involved hear the story and kind of experience their own traumatization from previous experiences," said Siloam spokesman Floyd Perras.

The six stabbings occurred over a three-week period:

  • Jan. 13 — 5:30 p.m. in the 100 block of Princess Street (Red River College campus). A 20-year-old man was stabbed in the upper body and robbed of his cellphone.
  • Jan. 18 — 2:30 p.m. at King Street and Rupert Avenue. A 61-year-old man was stabbed in the upper body.
  • Jan. 27 — 5:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Donald Street (outside Yellow Dog Tavern). A 28-year-old man was stabbed in the upper body and robbed of his cellphone.
  • Jan. 30 — 6:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Princess Street (Siloam Mission). A 68-year-old man and a 56-year-old man were both stabbed in the upper body.
  • Jan. 30 — 9:30 p.m. at Princess Street and McDermot Avenue. A 61-year-old man was stabbed in the upper body.

"It's very unfortunate so many individuals sustained these types of injuries but I'm so thankful I'm not talking about fatalities," said Michalyshen.

The alleged attacker was arrested within a half hour after the last stabbing on Jan. 30, when he was found near Adelaide Street and Elgin Avenue, just north of the Exchange District.

"This was one individual causing chaos in a particular area. We've been able to make an arrest and [I want to] provide that reassurance that the community is safe," Michalyshen said.

"Go about your business, enjoy the community, patronize the businesses. This is our home and our community. Don't let these incidents keep you from doing what you do every day."