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Calgary police recommend provincial review in death of woman near elementary school

Police say the death of a woman in front of a Calgary elementary school should be reviewed by a provincial committee that analyzes family violence cases.

Officers were called to the school in the southwestern community of Strathcona just before school started on Tuesday.

They found the woman, a mother, with apparent stab wounds and were unable to save her.

The suspect, who had been previously charged and released by the courts on a no-contact order, was found dead nearby by police.

Police say in a statement that they have a robust approach to domestic violence, but every situation is complex.

They say police had engaged with the family numerous times, including charging the suspect on three separate occasions, but he was released each time with conditions, including the no-contact order.

Court records show that the man was charged with sexual assault involving the woman on July 9, 2023, and had two counts of failing to comply with a release order. He was scheduled to appear in court next month.

Police said in the statement that there was also a warrant issued on Tuesday morning “in relation to domestic charges.”

They said that once criminal charges are laid, it’s up to the justice system to determine if the accused will be held in custody or released on bail based on the totality and severity of the offences committed.

“Bail reform is an ongoing conversation and is a concern for law enforcement agencies and our community when violent offenders are released after being charged,” said the statement. “The CPS has been a strong advocate for much-needed bail reform.”

They recommended that the case be reviewed by the Family Violence Death Review Committee. It was established by the province in 2013 to analyze cases of family violence resulting in death, identify systemic issues, trends, risk factors and patterns from cases, and make recommendations to the government for intervention and prevention of similar deaths.

Police added that domestic violence crimes are vastly under-reported, and encouraged anyone facing any type of conflict to contact police or a support agency.

They said Tuesday’s case remains under investigation.

“The Calgary Police Service would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the family members and loved ones who are faced with a most challenging road ahead as they grieve their loss.”

Its Victim Assistance Support Team is also available for anyone who may need help at 403-428-8398 or toll free at 1-888-327-7828.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.

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