Child punched in random Transit attack
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A father and his 10-year-old son are recovering after being attacked by strangers on a Winnipeg Transit bus.
The pair were aboard a bus on Thursday evening when a male and female passenger began randomly shouting obscenities at them, the Winnipeg Police Service said Friday in a release.
The assault escalated, and the man and boy were punched multiple times before the suspects fled. After exiting the bus, the male suspect returned briefly and slapped the father across the face, police said.
Officers responded to the assault report around 8:30 p.m. and found the bus parked on the 500 block of Main Street.
According to police, the suspects were standing nearby and taken into custody.
Police determined the victims and suspects did not know each other.
The father and son were transported to the hospital in stable condition and treated, police said.
On Friday, Const. Dani McKinnon was unable to comment on the extent of any injuries.
“For privacy reasons, we do not provide medical-related information about an individual. With this being said, they were treated for injuries related to being punched in the head, we cannot provide the specifics… but we will confirm that the child was injured.”
McKinnon also could not comment on whether the suspects were under the influence of drugs.
Clifford Mentuck, 31, and Nida Diane Kipling, 37, both of Winnipeg, remain in custody facing assault charges.
A review of court documents revealed Kipling has no prior convictions, although she has had charges stayed in the past.
Mentuck, who was wanted by RCMP for two counts of break and enter, has a lengthy criminal history.
He made court appearances in 2021, 2018, 2015 and 2014, for crimes ranging from assaulting a peace officer, failing to comply with probation conditions, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Documents show Mentuck has served a series of short terms in custody, the longest of which is a three-month conditional sentence relating to the firearm charge. He has repeatedly violated his probation.
Thursday’s incident is the latest in a spate of violence involving Winnipeg Transit, which logged 130 assaults against its employees in 2022. The No. 18 bus (North Main-Corydon) route is the most dangerous, with around 13 reported assaults last year, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 said.
In a statement released Friday, ATU 1505 president Chris Scott described “a grim start for 2023,” reporting the union has received around eight assault reports against Transit workers since the new year began.
Scott noted the union is not notified of assaults against passengers unless a Transit employee is involved.
“There could be more. It’s disturbing,” he said.
Union representatives met with Mayor Scott Gillingham and Couns. Janice Lukes and John Orlikow on Monday.
ATU 1505 previously sent letters to both Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen, but neither have responded to requests to meet with union officials, Scott said while speaking to the Free Press about a separate incident last week.
“While we aren’t able to discuss matters that are currently under investigation by the Winnipeg Police Service… Winnipeg Transit is committed to providing a safe transit service in Winnipeg, and a safe work environment for all our employees,” city spokesperson Alissa Clark said in an email.
The city has made numerous investments toward improving transit safety in recent years, including installing safety shields and emergency alarms, improving driver training and developing a Transit Advisory Committee, Clark said.
—with files from Erik Pindera
Updated on Friday, January 20, 2023 4:32 PM CST: Adds file photo
Updated on Friday, January 20, 2023 5:56 PM CST: Adds comments from the City of Winnipeg
Updated on Saturday, January 21, 2023 1:58 PM CST: Removes line saying Stefanson and Goertzen did not respond to requests for comment