Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/2/2017 (1523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was the end of the line for an otherwise uneventful route that had seen every passenger — save for one — quietly exit the bus without incident.
But when veteran Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser went to rouse the young, scrawny man who had remained on board early Tuesday, he had no idea it was about to cost him his life.
Fraser, 58, was stabbed to death in a senseless attack that has stunned family, friends and colleagues. A 22-year-old man is in custody following a dramatic arrest shortly after the slaying that put the life of a Winnipeg police officer in peril.
"There’s no reason why this should have happened, not at all," Nelson Giesbrecht, a 19-year bus driver who knew Fraser well, told the Free Press. "My fellow brother was murdered for doing his job last night."
Fraser was an "easy-going" veteran driver who wasn’t concerned about ensuring riders had the proper fare, Giesbrecht said. Other drivers spoke of Fraser's well-known sense of humour. He died after a confrontation with the last passenger on his bus on the University of Manitoba campus as it hit the end of its route. The attack occurred just before 2 a.m. at Dafoe Road West and Gillson Street.
A police source told the Free Press on Tuesday what is believed to have occurred.
The suspect was with a group of friends who had been on the bus for some time. They were believed to be intoxicated, either from alcohol, drugs or both. At some point, all of the man's friends got off the bus. But for reasons unknown, the suspect stayed behind.
As the route came to an end, Fraser noticed the man still seated. He put the bus in park and went to the back, telling the man he'd have to leave.
"Where's my buddies?" the suspect asked, according to the police source.
Fraser told the man they'd already left — and he'd now have to follow. At some point he apparently put his hands on the man in an attempt to escort him off, which prompted the suspect to lash out.
"He spit on (the bus driver)," said the police source.
Fraser then grabbed the man and was in the process of pulling him off the bus when the man pulled out a large knife and began slashing and stabbing away. It was an extremely violent attack, one that left a large pool of blood near the front of the bus and resulted in Fraser's arm nearly being severed, according to the police source.
Fraser was rushed to hospital in critical condition but doctors were unable to save his life.
A student in the U of M's Asper School of Business rushing to catch the last bus to his home on campus arrived at the scene shortly after the attack and was still clearly traumatized later in the day.
"I didn’t witness the killing but I saw the body. It was in a pool of blood," said the international student, who did not want his name published, adding campus security were already at the scene when he got there.
"For me, I was thinking he’s dead already. My view was to run away, thinking the murderer should be around. I went over on the river side and this morning, I heard that the... suspect was caught around there. That’s the way I ran so I’m terrified right now."
Witnesses pointed officers, who were being led by the canine unit, in the direction of the Red River, where a suspect trying to cross to the St. Vital side was arrested and taken into custody. The suspect is known to police, the source said.
Following the arrest, an officer returned to the river to continue investigating and fell through the ice. Other officers were able to get a rope to him and pulled him out of the water. He was not injured.
Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth said at a police press conference Tuesday that the suspect was the lone passenger on the bus. It is not known how the attack began.
"It is a shocking story any time a public servant is killed while working, whether that's police, fire or in this instance, a public transit driver," Smyth said. "Our heart goes out to all of the public servants that are out there doing their job every day. We don't think things like this are going to happen."
Dave Wardrop, former Transit director and the city’s new chief transportation and utilities officer, said the full-time driver's slaying is unprecedented.
"This is a very difficult day, obviously, for everybody, both at the City of Winnipeg and certainly within Winnipeg Transit," Wardrop said, adding assaults on public transportation are a problem across North America.
"We know how difficult it is. We encourage everyone to focus on the job at hand, on the service we need to deliver on a daily basis, and continue on."
Flags outside civic buildings were lowered to half-mast.
"Our thoughts and condolences are with Jubal’s loved ones and friends. All of us at Winnipeg Transit are shocked and saddened, and are struggling to come to terms with this news," Transit acting director Greg Ewankiw said in a statement published on the union's website.
U of M spokesman John Danakas said the suspect had no apparent association with the university.
"This is a horrible, tragic event," Danakas said. "Winnipeg Transit drivers provide an invaluable service to the University of Manitoba day-in and day-out."
Danakas said services available to students, such as counselling, are outlined on the U of M website.
Story includes files from: Ashley Prest, Mike McIntyre, Bill Redekop, Aldo Santin, Boris Minkevich, Mia Rabson, Kevin Rollason and Scott Emmerson