Edmonton police have arrested and charged a man in relation to two separate LRT station assaults, including one where a senior was pushed off the platform and onto the LRT tracks Monday night.
Around 8:20 pm on Monday, an elderly woman was standing and waiting for the train at the Jubilee LRT station on 114 Street. Police said it was reported that an unknown man ran up and pushed the woman off the platform and onto the tracks.
The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said the elderly woman suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to hospital. The 78-year-old woman and suspect were not known to each other and police called the incident “unprovoked.”
Around 3 pm on Tuesday, Edmonton transit peace officers responded to a report of an assault with a weapon at Churchill LRT station. Police said it was reported that a 53-year-old man had been threatened with a weapon. The incident was captured by LRT station surveillance and the suspect was located and arrested.
The EPS said peace officers recognized the suspect as the man responsible for the attack on the 78-year-old woman the day before and contacted police, who took the suspect into custody for both assaults.
Kendall Raine, 20, has been charged with assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for the Churchill LRT Station incident, as well as aggravated assault for the incident at the Jubilee LRT Station, Edmonton police said.
Safety concerns at LRT stations
The two assaults are the latest violent incidents on the city’s transit system, which has raised safety concerns.
On March 9, a 39-year-old man was waiting at Central LRT Station with a group when they were approached by another group where an altercation occurred, resulting in the man being stabbed.
The victim was taken to hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, and an aggravated assault charge has been laid by police.
Another stabbing at an LRT station occurred last April when a University of Alberta student was stabbed after a man attacked him while exiting the train at University Station. The suspect was arrested without incident.
Following a series of attacks on Muslim women, the city decided to increase security presence at transit stations in March 2021. At the time, six attacks on Muslim women had been reported — three occurring on transit property.
City province needs support to increase LRT safety
In March 2022, a new bystander awareness program, expanded outreach teams and upgraded CCTV cameras were announced as part of a move by city transit planners to improve safety on transit this year. However, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the city can’t solve underlying social issues behind safety issues unless the province steps in.
Sohi said ridership has recovered to 69 per cent of pre-pandemic levels as of last month, but Edmonton transit and the city’s downtown won’t fully recover economically if the provincial government doesn’t invest in addressing the housing crisis, drug poisonings and mental health issues that are causing stress in the community.
Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addiction, disagreed, saying the province has been investing in treatment and recovery options and providing police with tools to connect people with help.
Sohi said the city is doing what it can to address the issue.
— With files from Anna Junker and Lauren Boothby