The day that he was slain in his clinic in Red Deer, Alta., Walter Reynolds had called his mother in his native South Africa to tell her how well things had been going recently.
Dr. Reynolds told his mother that “it was a lovely summer holiday that they had; the weather was perfect,” a family friend, Carin Booysen, said in an interview from South Africa.
Later that Monday morning, the 45-year-old physician was at work at the Village Mall Walk In Clinic in Red Deer, located about halfway between Calgary and Edmonton.
Around 11 a.m., a man with a machete came to the clinic and attacked Dr. Reynolds, according to the RCMP and court documents.
One patient, Anina Mullin, told the Red Deer Advocate that she was in the waiting room when she heard banging noises and screams from the examination room. She said two men in the waiting room held the door shut to keep the suspect inside until police arrived in response to a 911 call.
Dr. Reynolds died in hospital.
The RCMP has charged a 54-year-old Red Deer man, Deng Mabiour, with the first-degree murder of Dr. Reynolds, assaulting another doctor with a machete and assaulting a police officer. RCMP Superintendent Gerald Grobmeier said that the other doctor was not physically harmed while the officer’s injuries were minor.
Mr. Mabiour is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. The first-degree murder charge means that investigators think the killing of Dr. Reynolds was premeditated.
Supt. Grobmeier said the police believe Dr. Reynolds knew his attacker, but he declined to say whether the suspect was a patient, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.
“This was not a random attack; it was targeted,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The suspect and Dr. Reynolds knew each other through the clinic.” He declined to discuss a potential motive.
Supt. Grobmeier said the police arrived within minutes of the 911 call.
The officer who was attacked was struck with a blunt object, he said.
Ms. Mullin said the suspect tossed out a blood-covered hammer when the police opened the examination room door with their guns drawn.
There were 13 people in the clinic at the time and a city bus transported witnesses to the nearby RCMP detachment to be interviewed.
Dr. Reynolds moved to Canada from South Africa shortly after he graduated from the University of Pretoria, Ms. Booysen said.
“He was an extremely loving father and I think he did the best for his children by going to Canada.”
She said Dr. Reynolds grew up in Gauteng province, near the South African capital of Pretoria, and was one of the four sons of a civil engineer. The youngest brother was a police officer who died after being shot on duty.
South Africa has a high rate of violent crimes so it was a surprise to Ms. Booysen that her friend had been killed in Canada.
“This is extreme shock. We are actually used to violence. To hear that something like that happened there [in Canada] is something of a shock.”
Dr. Reynolds was smart, a good piano player and also very athletic, enjoying running, swimming and cycling, she said. As a result, he and his wife, Anelia, enjoyed many activities available in Alberta’s outdoors.
“In Canada, everything appealed to him,” Ms. Booysen said.
His sister-in-law, Adel Jansen, remembered Dr. Reynolds – who she referred to as Wallie – as a devoted father and husband with a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh.
“He was an exemplary human being, touched everyone’s lives whom he met, made an impression, made you want to be a better person,” Ms. Jansen wrote in an e-mail.
“What a great father he was. His daughters absolutely adored him, and he them. They did fun things, he always made sure to spend time with them, play a board game, go bike riding, take them to swimming or piano lessons – just being an involved dad.”
Ms. Jansen said Dr. Reynolds loved being a doctor and was good at it.
“He knew how to make someone feel special,” she wrote. “He worked so hard to get the clinic up and running and being successful.”
Johan Myburgh, a fellow Red Deer doctor, set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Dr. Reynolds’s daughters that had garnered more than $100,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
“His friends, colleagues and community mourn an exceptional human being lost too soon. We all are devastated and heartbroken,” Dr. Myburgh wrote on his fundraising appeal.
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