On June 28 at around 3:30 p.m. Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, a recent UW physics graduate, entered Hagey Hall (HH) 139, where a PHIL 202: Gender Issues class was happening, asked the professor of the class what the subject matter was, and then launched a stabbing attack that left the professor and two students in the class injured.
The three victims were sent to the hospital, with one being sent to an out-of-region hospital, and all are in stable condition.
The university’s official safety app, WatSAFE, did not send out notifications until 5:24 p.m.
In a press conference the day after, the Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) confirmed that the attack was “a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity.”
Wednesday June 28, 2023
Stabbing in Hagey Hall (HH) 139 during PHIL 202: Gender Issues
Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, a recent UW physics graduate, entered the classroom, inquired after the subject being taught and then proceeded to attack the professor of the class and two students. Villalba-Aleman also attempted a third unsuccessful attack on another student.
James Chow, a student who was in the class at the time, described how Villalba-Aleman’s body language and tone of voice changed to become “more confident” after hearing it was a gender issues class, growing a “disgusting, mischievous smile” on his face.
Several students threw chairs at the suspect in an attempt to prevent him from attacking the professor. Students ran out of the building screaming at others in and around the building to get out and call 911.
Waterloo Regional Police receives 911 calls regarding incident
According to WRPS, they responded to the call within minutes of receiving it. According to Rebecca Elming, director of media relations and issues management, officers from the Special Constable Services were on site alongside WRPS officers.
Waterloo Regional Police tweets that they are on scene at the university
WRPS updates via Twitter that the suspect has been taken into custody
Villalba-Aleman attempted to blend into the crowd but was caught due to eyewitness descriptions.
UW quote tweets WRPS and says they are cooperating with the investigation
This was the first public acknowledgement of the incident from the university. They also added that there was no further threat to the campus community.
UW tweets asking students in HH to “VACATE IMMEDIATELY and leave all doors open”
They also reshared this tweet on their Instagram story.
UW announces that all classes in HH are canceled for the remainder of the day
All other classes and campus events continued as scheduled.
UW tweets update asking students in HH to “shelter in place” until police escorts them out
This update was not shared on their Instagram account, where the “VACATE IMMEDIATELY” post remained up.
Thursday June 29, 2023
Email “acknowledging the trauma of Hagey Hall incident” sent out to all UW students and employees
UW provost James W.E. Rush sent a memo to all students and employees sharing information about the incident. Rush did not share any motive for the attack and instead asked the community to “be patient and have confidence in the judicial process.”
This was the first email communication from the university regarding this incident. Rush’s statement was also published in the UW daily bulletin.
UW president Vivek Goel tweets about the incident
This was Goel’s first public acknowledgement of the incident.
WRPS holds press conference to provide updates regarding the incident
Chief of Police Mark Crowell shared that investigators believed that the attack was a “hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity.” Villalba-Aleman was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes, and mischief under $5,000.
UW holds gathering “in recognition of” the violence in Arts Quad
Goel, dean of arts Sheila Ager, and WUSA president Rory Norris gave speeches at the gathering addressing the incident.
Community led rally organized by GroundUpWR held near HH
Local grassroots activist organization GroundUpWR organized a rally to “stand against transphobia, queerphobia and misogyny.” Speeches were given by students as well as members of the larger KW community including Laura Mae Lindo, the MPP representing Kitchener Centre. Rally attendees expressed their frustration with what they felt were lacking security measures and emergency response times.
Tuesday July 4, 2023
A justice of the peace remands Villalba-Aleman to custody in Milton at Maplehurst jail. Villalba-Aleman’s bail hearing is set for July 11.
With files from Eduardo Matzumiya.