Manitoba

'Attacked at random': No clear motive for stabbing of teen girl at Winkler church, police say

Police say they are baffled after a man stabbed a teenage girl in the women's washroom at a church in Winkler, Man.

Accused, 39, faces charges of aggravated assault

Emergency crews were called to Pembina Valley Baptist Church on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT, where they found the victim in a church washroom suffering from 'a number of serious stab wounds.' (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Police say the brutal stabbing of a teenager at a church in Winkler, Man., on Sunday appears to have been random.

The girl, 15, is in stable condition in a Winnipeg hospital.

​"[W]hen you're just attacked at random like that, or what appears to be random, it's definitely shocking. It's going to affect a lot of people for a long time," said Winkler police Chief Rick Hiebert.

Hiebert said emergency crews were called to Pembina Valley Baptist Church on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT, where they found the victim in a church washroom suffering from "a number of serious stab wounds."

According to a church letter to the congregation, a man entered the facility about half an hour after Sunday's service ended, went into the women's washroom and injured the teen.

"He immediately exited the buildings and went and sat in a car," the letter reads

Two nurses who attended the church helped the teen until emergency services arrived, the church said. The 15-year-old was initially taken to the Boundary Trails Health Centre, and later flown to hospital in Winnipeg.

Hiebert said police arrested a Winkler man in the parking lot of the church in connection with the stabbing.

Maksym Kravchenko, 39, is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He appeared briefly in court Monday in Portage la Prairie, Man.

"The accused has not been co-operative and we've been unable to determine a motive at this time," Hiebert said.

The church letter said the man is not a member of the congregation.

'Attacked at random': No clear motive for stabbing of teen girl at Winkler church, police say

5 years ago
Duration 1:41
Police say they are baffled after a man stabbed a teenage girl in the women's washroom at a church in Winkler, Man.

'Very, very sad incident'

The victim is from the Winkler area and didn't know the accused, Hiebert said.

"Whether the accused knew the victim, that we're still trying to determine," Hiebert said.

The church said the victim underwent surgery in Winnipeg.

"She had very serious injuries, yet the doctors are pleased with her progress," the letter states.

It adds the family is doing OK. 

"We need to allow them to heal and [the victim] to get the care and rest she needs at this time," the letter reads. "She is handling this with great grace. She is a fine young lady."

Hiebert said it's the first time in his career he's dealt with a serious assault in a church.

"Anytime you have a stabbing in a small community it's news, for sure. Very, very sad incident," he said.

'Unbelievable'

Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said the community is in shock.

"We are a faith-based community. We have roughly 25 churches in the community and to have something like this happen in one of those churches, it's just unbelievable," Harder said.

He said he'd spoken to the church pastor to extend condolences after the incident. The church held a service that evening where the congregation was informed of the attack, Harder said.

"We certainly sense their sense of grief of this even happening in their church," he said.

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With files from Meaghan Ketcheson and The Canadian Press

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