Imagine a city flooded with tourists at one of the busiest times of the year. Now consider how those visitors might feel if they believed there was a group of strangers roaming the streets stabbing those innocent newcomers for no apparent reason. It’s the fear that lies underneath the celebration of the Calgary Stampede this week, after one woman died and four more were sent to hospital in a series of apparently random knifings that took place over a one hour span early Wednesday morning.
The attacks happened in different areas of the city and took place between 4 and 5am, when many people were out late after a night of drinking and partying. It’s prompted the kind of warning from police that won’t do much to warm the hearts of the local visitors’ bureau. “There’s always the concern that when people are out late, and if you’ve been drinking or partying — and it’s Stampede week — that they always have to be vigilant,” warns acting Staff Sgt. Patty McCallum of Calgary’s Homicide Squad. “And in most cases, these people were alone — so that makes them more vulnerable and is perhaps why they were targeted.”
Witnesses recall seeing a grim scene. “The most blood was on the bench but it trickled across the parking lot,” recalls Bryan Pottie. Other residents are understandably unnerved by the incident. “It’s scary to have it close to where you work and where you live,” admits Mike Nasser.
Police seem sure the same men are responsible for all the crimes, which appear to be totally random. There are no apparent connections between the victims and none of the survivors could identify their assailants. Authorities are seeking three or four men driving a newer model four-door van, as well as something else that’s absent – any sign of a motive.