WINKLER, Man. – Police in southern Manitoba were at a loss Monday as they tried to determine why a 15-year-old girl was repeatedly stabbed inside the women’s washroom at the Pembina Valley Baptist Church shortly after the weekly service had ended.
Police arrested a suspect at the scene in Winkler, some 100 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, minutes after it happened Sunday. They said the man did not provide much information.
“We have been unable to determine a motive for this attack and that is quite frustrating. Everybody is asking and wondering why,” Winkler police Chief Rick Hiebert said Monday.
“The accused was not known to the victim and the accused has not offered police any leads as to his motive for the attack.”
The girl suffered multiple stab wounds and was taken to the local hospital before she was airlifted for treatment in Winnipeg. She was listed in stable condition.
The church’s pastor said the suspect was not a member of the congregation, and did not go far after the attack.
“He immediately exited the buildings and went and sat in a car,” Michael Sullivant wrote in a statement.
“We have captured footage of the man entering and exiting the buildings from our security cameras. It has been provided to the police services. We have been assured that with an event like this, there were no precautions that were missed as this is seemingly so random.”
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 public attack is an anomaly in Winkler, a rural community of 12,000. Police statistics show the city often goes years between homicides and registers only a small annual number of assaults with a weapon or that cause bodily harm.
“It’s devastating to hear. You think churches would be a safe place,” said Winkler Mayor Martin Harder.
“We’re as shocked as anybody.”
— By Steve Lambert in Winnipeg