Blue Line

Calgary police recommend provincial review in death of woman near elementary school

January 18, 2024  By The Canadian Press

Jan. 18, 2024, Calgary, Alta. – Police say the death of a woman in front of a Calgary elementary school should be reviewed by a provincial committee that analyzes family violence cases.

Officers were called to the school in the southwestern community of Strathcona just before class started on Tuesday. They found the woman, a mother, with apparent stab wounds and were unable to save her.

The 42-year-old suspect, who had been previously charged and released by the courts on a no-contact order, was found dead nearby by police.

“We wholeheartedly recognize that (Tuesday’s) tragic and violent events have deeply impacted and forever changed the lives of many people,” police said in a statement late Wednesday.


Police said they have a robust approach to domestic violence, but every situation is complex.

“We engaged with the family numerous times, including charging the suspect on three separate occasions,” said the statement. “Each time charges were laid, he was released with conditions, including a no-contact order issued by the court.”

Court records show that the man was charged with sexual assault involving the woman on July 9, 2023, and had two counts of failing to comply with a release order. He had been scheduled to appear in court next month.

They cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

Police said in the statement that there was also a warrant issued for the suspect on Tuesday morning “in relation to domestic charges.”

They said that once criminal charges are laid, it’s up to the justice system to determine if the accused will be held in custody or released on bail based on the totality and severity of the offences committed.

“Bail reform is an ongoing conversation and is a concern for law enforcement agencies and our community when violent offenders are released after being charged,” said the statement. “The CPS has been a strong advocate for much-needed bail reform.”

They recommended that the case be reviewed by the Family Violence Death Review Committee, which was established by the province in 2013.

Child and Family Services said in a statement that the committee reviews “all police-reported family violence-related deaths to help find patterns and systemic issues in order to make our communities safer, and make recommendations to help prevent and reduce family violence in Alberta.”

Andrea Silverstone, chief executive officer for Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society, said it’s a heartbreaking case for the family and any bystanders who saw what happened.

“It’s shocking as well,” she said.

Silverstone said the woman’s death raises the question of how to prevent domestic violence deaths from happening.

One way could be making coercive control a crime, she said.

“Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour in which a person’s sense of personal agency has been removed,” she said. “They feel like they can’t make decisions in their own best interests because they are afraid of what the implications from the perpetrator is going to be on their life. The criminalization of coercive control … would allow police to go in sooner, before there is a broken bone or a black eye, and hopefully intervene.”

Police added that domestic violence crimes are vastly under-reported, and encouraged anyone facing any type of conflict to contact police or a support agency.

They said Tuesday’s case remains under investigation.

“The Calgary Police Service would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the family members and loved ones who are faced with a most challenging road ahead as they grieve their loss.”

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