(WATERLOO, Ontario) — A former student has been charged in a hate-motivated stabbing of two other students and a university professor during a class on gender issues at the University of Waterloo in Canada, according to local police.
Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, a 24-year-old international student who recently graduated from the university, faces three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief under $5,000.
“WPS investigators have determined that the accused specifically targeted a gender studies class,” said Chief Mark Crowell in a press conference on the investigation. “Investigators believe this was a planned and targeted attack, motivated by hate related to gender expression and gender identity.”
Police were called at 3:35 p.m. to a “report of a stabbing inside a classroom at Hagey Hall” at the university, which is located approximately 70 miles west of Toronto.
According to Crowell, the suspect was not a member of the class but spoke with the professor in the classroom before attacking her with two large knives “without provocation.”
Several students attempted to stop the attacker, while others fled the scene.
“Through investigation, it was determined that three victims were injured as a result of the incident,” authorities said. “Two females and one male were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.”
A 38-year-old female professor sustained serious but not life threatening injuries from the stab wounds and was transported to a hospital. One 20-year-old female student sustained serious but non-life-threatening stab wounds and a 19-year-old male sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The two were also transported to a local hospital following the incident.
Authorities did not say how many students were in the classroom at the time of the stabbing, but said there was no further threat to public safety after the suspect was arrested.
The attack occurred during Pride month, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. According to CBC News, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned of a rise in anti-LGBTQ hate and threats in Canada amid a growing anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric across North America, including the U.S.
Trudeau called the classroom attack “horrifying and unacceptable” in a tweet following the incident.
“It is both sad and disturbing that this incident has occurred during Pride month, the time where we celebrate and recognize members of the two-spirit, LGBTQIA+ community,” said Karen Redman, Chair of the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board. “We hope that this incident does not diminish from these celebrations but instead encourages us all to come together to continue to celebrate and continue to inspire love over hate.”
“There is no further threat to public safety either on campus or outside in the broader community at this time,” Waterloo Regional Police Service Superintendent Shaena Morris said at a news conference according to the Associated Press.
Classes that were scheduled to take place later on Wednesday were canceled as police investigated the stabbing, according to the university.
“Waterloo Regional Police Service have now cleared Hagey Hall,” the University of Waterloo said in a tweet late Wednesday. “Hagey Hall remains closed until tomorrow morning while police continue their investigation. There continues to be no further threat to our campus community.”
“Activities and classes in Hagey Hall will resume as scheduled” on Thursday, the university confirmed on their website.
The investigation is ongoing by Waterloo Regional Police Service’s General Investigations Unit and Forensics Identification Unit and anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.