Canadian Anti-Hate Network
The knife attack that injured three people inside a University of Waterloo classroom is believed by investigators to have been hate-motivated, police have said.
Waterloo Regional Police say that 24-year-old Geovanny Villalba-Aleman entered Hagey Hall on June 28, 2023, and attacked a philosophy class related to studying gender. Reports indicate he entered the classroom, asked about the title of the class, and then produced "two large knives," attacking individuals within.
“The accused targeted a gender-studies class and investigators believe this was a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity,” law enforcement said in a press release.
Waterloo Chief Mark Crowell later said that during interviews with the accused, Villalba-Aleman admitted said he intended his actions to “make a statement” by targeting the class.
Villalba-Aleman, an international student studying at the University, is facing three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose, and a single count of mischief under $5,000.
Social media accounts connected to the suspect indicate he studied physics, but may have graduated earlier in the year. He has no criminal record according to police.
“Three people were stabbed during the attack, including the professor, a 38-year-old Kitchener female, and two students, a 20-year-old Waterloo female and a 19-year-old Waterloo male,” police said. “All sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”
Villalba-Aleman was arrested by police inside the university immediately after the attack according to reports.
He appeared in court for a bail hearing on June 29, 2023.
During a press conference, Waterloo Regional Police said that the suspect initially posed as a victim before being arrested.
"He sought to blend in and essentially hide in plain sight while we responded," Chief Mark Crowell told reporters.
Out of the roughly 40 students in the class, some attempted to stop the stabbing after it began.
"Once the attack occured, there were those who were seeking to actively involve themselves to stop the attack," Crowell said.
He also attempted to stab a fourth individual as people fled the classroom.
Villalba-Aleman was not a member of the class and "investigators believe this was a planned and targeted attack motivated by hate related to gender expression."
"There is no evidence to suggest that the suspect coordinated with anyone to carry out this attack," police said. He added later he is currently not aware of any online activity tied to the attack. Police are currently seeking access to the suspect's digital devices.
This is a developing story. We will update accordingly.