Although it garnered significantly less attention than other instances of unfamiliar assaults, earlier this month, Edmonton played host to what can easily be characterized as Canada’s most severe case of arbitrary stabbing to date.
Shortly after the conclusion of classes at Crawford Plains School on May 5th, a mother and child were subjected to an assault by an erratic man who wandered the premises brandishing a knife.
Sara Miller, an eleven-year-old, presumably bore witness to her mother’s demise. While 35-year-old Carolann Robillard perished on-site, her daughter exhibited signs of life when first responders reached the scene – though she would succumb several hours later within the confines of a hospital.
Both the mother and the child were later laid to rest within the same casket.
Testimonies from witnesses imply that the assailant – residing merely 400 meters away – had intentions of embarking on a spree of stabbings within the school premises itself. Foiled in his attempt to gain entry into the building through the “heroic” intervention of a teacher, as characterized by law enforcement, he seemed to redirect his aggression towards the nearest individuals within his proximity.
The alleged assailant met his demise, succumbing to injuries sustained in an altercation with law enforcement shortly after the stabbing.
Yet, even amidst a nationwide crisis involving the release of violent offenders despite the high probability of them causing harm to innocent individuals, this case represents a conspicuously egregious failure of the system to safeguard the public against a palpable menace to their well-being. Muorater Mashar, aged 33, had compiled a history of recurring violent offenses spanning at least the last 14 years. His teenage years were also marked by a troubled record; legal documents reveal that he was suspended from high school on a minimum of two occasions due to instances of violence – although any infractions committed during this period would remain concealed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
At the time of the May 5th attack on Miller and Robillard, it was conceivable that Mashar could have been incarcerated due to one of his previous convictions. As per the Criminal Code, a single conviction of aggravated assault is sufficient grounds for imprisonment for up to 14 years. However, despite Mashar accumulating a plethora of such convictions, he frequently evaded severe sentences, often serving only a few months.
Global News’ Edmonton bureau conducted a comprehensive investigation into Mashar’s criminal history, even managing to secure interviews with some of his victims.
Their findings indicate that his lengthiest period of incarceration amounted to a mere four years, a sentence imposed for a near-fatal assault at a Winnipeg bus stop in 2014. Reportedly, following a dispute with another passenger, Mashar resorted to puncturing the individual’s aorta and spinal cord with a series of stab wounds.
Yet, Mashar was granted parole despite numerous instances of violence within prison and violations of the terms of his release. A 2018 decision by the Parole Board of Canada, obtained by CBC Edmonton, characterizes him as “unpredictable” and “somewhat paranoid,” with a tendency to manipulate staff.
Curiously, merely two years later, when Mashar launched an attack on an Edmonton transit bus using bear spray, his sentence amounted to a mere 80 days of imprisonment.
In the months leading up to the alleged assault on Miller and Robillard, Mashar began displaying a disturbing inclination towards assaulting children without apparent provocation. In April 2022, he targeted a random 12-year-old boy on the Edmonton LRT, subjecting the child to repeated blows until bystanders intervened and restrained him.
Aimee Guilbault, the boy’s mother, spoke to Global News, recounting her son’s astonishment upon learning that his assailant had been released from prison a mere couple of months after his conviction in February 2023.
“At first, he couldn’t believe it when I told him. He said, ‘That man shouldn’t be free yet.’ I responded, ‘I concur,'” she recalled.
Even disregarding the possibility that Mashar could have been incarcerated on May 5th, there is no impediment preventing him from being held in pre-trial detention while awaiting additional charges stemming from an apparently arbitrary assault.
In the initial days following the attack, Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee noted that his officers had recently apprehended Mashar on an assault charge related to an alleged incident involving a scooter.
“He was brought before a judge and released with conditions, and the charges were subsequently dropped,” McFee informed the press. According to Mashar’s records, this was not the first occasion on which he had evaded consequences for violent assault charges, some of which were either ignored or dismissed entirely. During a brief period in the Edmonton Remand Centre following the assault on the 12-year-old, Mashar purportedly faced no repercussions for attacking another inmate with feces.
As McFee lamented in the wake of the May 5th attack, “numerous opportunities for intervention, multiple junctures at which the suspect could have been held accountable and provided with the requisite professional support to manage his conduct, were squandered by the system.”
Particularly over the last two years, Canada has borne witness to a burgeoning crisis of “stranger attacks” – instances of random, occasionally fatal assaults executed without provocation, often occurring in broad daylight. In nearly all cases, the alleged perpetrators are either on parole, out on bail, or both.
In March, 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes was fatally stabbed at a Toronto subway station, an attack devoid of any discernible provocation. The alleged assailant, Jordan O’Brien-Tobin, had amassed a litany of progressively more severe charges since turning 19 merely three years prior. Allegedly, he took Magalhaes’ life only weeks after being granted parole for an alleged sexual assault.
IN OTHER NEWS NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has echoed sentiments akin to those expressed by the Conservative Party concerning the foreign interference scandal. Specifically, he contends that the Liberal government has habitually disregarded instances of foreign interference, and that David Johnston’s proximity to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disqualifies him from impartially serving as a “special rapporteur” on the matter. Notably, the NDP diverges in that they continue to support the minority Liberal government and have openly abstained from exerting any form of leverage in relation to the scandal. However, on Monday, Singh did call upon the Liberals to dismiss Johnston, albeit with the caveat that they should proceed if they are so inclined, as his support for them will persist regardless of their decision.