Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man charged with trying to blow up downtown apartment building

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Emergency crews stand by on Assiniboine Avenue at Hargrave Street Tuesday afternoon.


Emergency crews stand by on Assiniboine Avenue at Hargrave Street Tuesday afternoon. Photo Store

A Winnipeg man has been accused of trying to blow up a downtown apartment block.

Police say potential disaster was narrowly avoided Tuesday morning in the 300 block of Assiniboine Avenue. Emergency crews were called after reports of a strong gas smell coming from within the building.

Sources told the Free Press a gas line had been deliberately severed, while fuel was poured on the floor of a suite. The building, along with neighbouring residents, were quickly evacuated for fear of an explosion.

Members of the hazardous-materials team were able to shut off the gas before any ignition occurred. Police arrested a suspect at the scene.

Joel Donald Calder, 49, is accused of arson disregarding for human life, arson causing damage to property, posession of incendiary materials and explosive with intent to cause property damage. He has been detained in custody without bail.

None of the allegations has been proven and Calder is presumed innocent.

Calder is no stranger to the justice system. He was convicted in 1991 of attempted murder and sexual assault after stabbing a woman 17 times. The victim, a stranger, had turned down his sexual advances. Calder was given a seven-year prison sentence.

Calder was convicted in 2002 of stalking a Winnipeg teacher over the internet and received a six-month sentence. Upon his release, police notified the public he remained a high-risk.


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