Tragedy struck the University of Waterloo on Wednesday after a recent graduate stabbed several students and faculty in a gender studies class. Local law enforcement reported no fatalities from the "hate-motivated" incident.
Mark Crowell, chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, told reporters that international student Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, 24, has been detained by police and charged with stabbing three people inside Hagey Hall.
They identified the three victims as a 38-year-old female professor from Kitchener and two students: a 20-year-old female and a 19-year-old male from Waterloo. All victims are in hospital recovering from severe but non-life threatening injuries.
Local law enforcement charged Villalba-Aleman with three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and mischief under $5,000 over the mass stabbing.
The police chief said the accused has no prior criminal record.
According to regional police, "this was a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity," adding some 40 people were inside the classroom during the stabbings.
"The accused was located by police within the building and arrested," and appeared in court for a bail hearing Thursday after spending the night in custody. The result of that hearing is not yet known.
University officials sent a university-wide-in-house emergency alert to all students. Unfortunately, the system didn't work as expected after the stabbings.
University spokesperson Rebecca Elming confirmed the WatSAFE app sent an alert to students 90 minutes after the incident.
Earlier Wednesday, University personnel posted a tweet to test out the app. They later deleted it to avoid confusion between the test and real alerts.
While the investigation into the incident remains ongoing, law enforcement has deduced it was a "planned and targeted attack."
"It's sad and disturbing that this incident happened during Pride Month," said Crowell.
Nick Manning, associate vice president of communications for the University of Waterloo, said the app's failure to notify students promptly means a "second look at our emergency notification systems" is required.
"As soon as we had official notification from our partners at the police, we were there notifying our community through other means, and we need to look at that system to understand," he said.
Supt. Shaena Morris of the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) said the university's security response system was 'adequate' when the stabbings happened.
"We were able to work together with the University of Waterloo Special Constable Service to make an immediate arrest on scene," she said.
Morris confirmed Hagey Hall had no security staff present at the time of the stabbings.
"As is normal for any day on the university campus, we don't have a strong and visible security presence. It wouldn't be normal for us to have a significant security presence on campus on any normal day — and this was any normal day," she said.
Manning commented on speculation concerning the need to upgrade school security. He said it is too soon to know the answer to that.
"Of course...it requires us to go away and think about and examine how we go about our daily business," he said.
"I think it's really important for us to think now about the support for the students…[and] the employees at the moment and take some time to reflect on what's happened and make a plan from there."