A man employed at Winnipeg's Seven Oaks General Hospital has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of another employee there on Wednesday, and police say they believe he is also connected with two homicides discovered that same day.
For police, the chain of events began when RCMP discovered the body of a 73-year-old woman around 12:40 p.m. CT Wednesday after being called to a well-being check at a home in New Bothwell, a small community about 40 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
The call came from a concerned acquaintance of the resident, Manitoba RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said at a joint news conference with the Winnipeg Police Service on Thursday afternoon.
A man known to the woman was identified as a suspect. By 1:30 p.m., police believed he had travelled to Winnipeg, Courchaine said, adding the information was then relayed to police in the city.
"So obviously, it was unfolding very quickly," she said.
WATCH | Police give update on stabbing, homicides:
Around 2:30 p.m., Winnipeg police determined the suspect might have been in the area of Leila Avenue and McPhillips Street in northwest Winnipeg, police spokesperson Const. Dani McKinnon said at the news conference.
On their way there, officers got a report of a stabbing at Seven Oaks General Hospital — which is located at that same intersection — and found a woman in her 60s there who was seriously injured.
A man in his 30s was arrested at the hospital, police said.
The woman who was stabbed — a longtime hospital worker — is now out of surgery and remains in critical but stable condition, the president and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says.
"[It's] very challenging, but we're hopeful that she's going to recover," Mike Nader said during a separate news conference outside the hospital on Thursday afternoon.
"I was with the team and they said, 'We're going to have one hell of a party when she returns.' And we're looking forward to that."
The man who allegedly attacked her was also an employee at the hospital but was not on shift when the assault happened, Nader said.
He added the woman was not the man's direct manager but said he couldn't comment further on their relationship or where in the hospital they worked.
'No idea why'
Nader said the man walked through the building's main entrance on Leila Avenue and past screeners, and then attacked the woman. Nader said she was in the lobby talking to a colleague at the time, describing it as a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"This was an individual who came in, premeditated. [He] was not waving a knife around, or yelling or screaming. It was hidden [and he] went in and assaulted someone," he said.
"We have no idea why … It was not anything that anybody could have anticipated."
Nader said a number of hospital staff were able to jump on the man and pull him off the woman. They then rushed her to urgent care.
Support staff continue to work on site to help anyone who witnessed the traumatic incident, he said.
WATCH | Official gives update on hospital stabbing:
"It was right in the lobby, so you can imagine there were a number of staff, there were patients' families who witnessed it," Nader said, adding that many are worried about the injured and well-loved hospital worker.
"They're used to seeing people come in injured and hurt. They're not use to seeing their co-worker beside them."
The hospital later ramped up security, in part to help direct people after the main entrance was closed off. It has since fully reopened to visitors, Nader said.
On Wednesday evening, following the attack at Seven Oaks, RCMP went to the 300 block of Toronto Street in Winnipeg's West End in connection with their investigation into the New Bothwell homicide.
There, they found the body of a man in his 70s, who is also believed to be the victim of a homicide.
Winnipeg police and RCMP are investigating all three incidents and believe they may be related, McKinnon said. Police say the suspect knew all three victims but would not confirm how.
No charges have been laid and the suspect is currently undergoing medical assessment in hospital, McKinnon said.
She would not speculate on what the man's motive for the alleged incidents may have been.
"This investigation is still in its infancy," she said. "Charges have not been laid at this time, so really this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"It's not often that we have three massive events that are related, so there's a lot to piece together here."
Police also did well-being checks to confirm the safety "of any other potential victims," McKinnon said.
It's not believed there are any further victims and investigators aren't looking for any other suspects.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Winnipeg Police Service homicide unit at 204-986-6508 or the RCMP major crime services tip line at 431-489-8105.
People can also contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 204-786-8477 (TIPS).