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Professor, 2 students in gender studies class in Canada stabbed in 'hate-motivated' attack: Report
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Professor, 2 students in gender studies class in Canada stabbed in 'hate-motivated' attack: Report

Three people at a university in Canada were wounded in a stabbing that officials are calling a "hate-motivated" attack.

On Wednesday, a 38-year-old professor and approximately 40 students gathered in a classroom at Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo, located approximately 70 miles west of Toronto, for Philosophy 202, a gender studies course. Suddenly, a man carrying a large bag walked in, interrupted the class, and asked the professor a question.

The suspect then drew "two very big knives" out of his bag and stabbed the professor, said Jimmy Li, a student in class that day. Police claimed that many students bolted for an exit at the rear of the classroom as soon as they saw the knives, but others immediately ran to help the professor and even threw objects at the suspect to try and thwart the attack.

"I applaud those who really thought to stand up and intervene in the best way they could," said Waterloo Regional Police Chief Mark Crowell.

Three injured, one arrested in stabbing at University of Waterloo in Ontariowww.youtube.com

In all, two students, a 20-year-old female and a 19-year-old male, had been wounded in the attack, as had the professor, Dr. Katy Fulfer, who has been described as a woman and who reportedly prefers she/her and they/them pronouns but who was referenced by at least one student as male. All three victims were taken to the hospital for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police and university officials were quick to classify the stabbing as a "hate-motivated" crime. "Yesterday our community was confronted by hate-motivated violence," said a statement from James Rush, the university provost. "[I]nvestigators believe this was a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity," echoed a statement from Waterloo Regional Police.

A description of the course does suggest that the material covered in the class was almost exclusively related to gender issues: "This course will examine the construction of gender in the history of philosophy through contemporary discussions. What is gender? How do we 'do' gender? How can we 'undo' gender—and do we want to?"

However, Supt. Shaena Morris of Waterloo police said in a press conference soon after the incident that she could not "speak to motive at this time."

Whatever the motive, police quickly arrested a suspect in the case: Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, a 24-year-old international student who recently graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He is originally from Quito, Ecuador.

Crowell claimed that Villalba-Aleman initially attempted "to blend in" with other crowds of students that day "and essentially to hide in plain sight" but was identified by witnesses almost immediately.

Villalba-Aleman, who has no prior criminal record, was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, and two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Police requested that he be held without bail.

On Thursday afternoon, Waterloo students gathered at an outdoor common area "in recognition of the shocking attack and trauma." During the gathering, there was a moment of silence as well as some public remarks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued a statement about the incident. "Yesterday’s stabbings at a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo are horrifying and unacceptable," he tweeted on Thursday. "This type of violence must always be condemned. Our thoughts are with the professor and two students who were injured."

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