PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Manitoba – Passengers aboard a Canadian bus fled in horror as a fellow traveler viciously attacked his seat mate, repeatedly stabbing him and then severing his head, witnesses said Thursday.
Police said a 40-year-old man was arrested after the grisly attack late Wednesday night aboard a Greyhound bus en route from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The suspect was captured as he tried to escape from the bus early Thursday about three hours after the violence, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Steve Colwell told reporters.
Authorities declined to provide details beyond that the victim had been stabbed. They said a motive hadn’t been determined and refused to identify the suspect or the victim.
But passenger Garnet Caton said the victim, who appeared to be about 19, was sleeping when his seat mate suddenly began stabbing him as the bus traveled a desolate stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Caton, sitting just one seat in front of the two men, said he heard no exchanges between them prior to the violence.
“We heard this bloodcurdling scream and turned around, and the guy was standing up, stabbing this guy repeatedly,” Caton said from a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, where he and other horrified passengers were taken.
Caton said the driver stopped the bus when he became aware of the attack and passengers scrambled off. A short while later, Caton said he re-boarded along with the bus driver and a trucker who had stopped to see what was happening.
He said the suspect had the victim on the floor of the bus and “was cutting his head off” with a large hunting knife.
“When he was attacking him, he was calm,” said Caton. “There was no rage or, or anything. He was just like a robot stabbing the guy.”
The attacker turned toward them and the three men quickly left the bus, blocking the door as the attacker slashed at them through an opening. The three secured the door to prevent the man’s escape. Caton said the driver disabled the vehicle after the attacker tried to drive it away.
As the three guarded the door with a crowbar and a hammer, the attacker went back to the body and calmly came to the front of the bus to show off the head.
Cody Olmstead, another passenger, said the man “dropped the head and went back and started cutting the body.” Olmstead said the man later used the head to taunt police.
By midday Thursday, the bus was still parked at the side of the highway, surrounded by squad cars as white-suited investigators examined the vehicle and ground nearby.
Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said there had been 37 passengers aboard, many watching a movie when the violence erupted. She called the attack tragic but isolated.
Colwell said the actions of truck driver, bus driver and Caton probably prevented anyone else from being hurt. They “were very brave.”
“This particular incident, as horrific as it is, is obviously extremely rare,” said Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. He did not provide any details, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.