© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper is shown during a march against violence in Marlene Bird’s honour that was held on June 6.
As the investigation into the vicious assault on Marlene Darlene Bird continues, Prince Albert police Chief Troy Cooper says citizens have nothing to fear if they take ordinary precautions.
“We know that if people follow just basic, common sense safety rules, and not be alone in a secluded area, particularly early in the morning hours whether that’s downtown or in the industrial area, that’s just unsafe. I don’t think the community has a lot to be concerned about.”
Emergency personnel found Bird at about 10:20 a.m. on June 1 outside of the Margo Fournier Centre.
The latest update from University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton lists her in stable condition -- an improvement from critical -- but she still faces numerous surgeries, including facial reconstruction. Earlier this week, her second leg had to be amputated.
“It’s staggering to think that somebody could commit that kind of a violent assault on someone who is so peaceful, who is so easily victimized, who is not a threat to others,” Cooper said. “That’s a sad reality. It was a significant and violent assault.”
The level of violence exhibited in the attack has set it apart from other attacks, Copper said, noting that even the officers were struck by it.
With rumours sweeping the city about what may have happened, Cooper said it was important to make clear Bird’s role in the attack.
“First of all I want it to be clear that Marlene was victimized and her behaviour didn’t cause this to occur,” Cooper said. “She was in a secluded area and maybe that’s not the safest thing for a young lady to do but aside from that, we’re looking squarely at an offender for being responsible and not the lifestyle of Marlene Bird.”
After putting a call out to downtown merchants for video, the police service received enough that officers will be sifting through it for the next week.
“They’re following other leads as well,” he says. “They’re conducting field interviews with some of her associates. We’re trying to establish a timeline for the evening. We’ve received other tips and we’re doing followup on all of those. And of course we’re awaiting some forensic results.
“There’s lots of good work that’s going on now. Senior officers are all still assigned to it.”
While the chief said he was unable to provide any additional insight into the investigation or the actual assault itself, Cooper says the investigation is a top priority for the Prince Albert Police Service.
“We’re taking this quite seriously; obviously it was a serious assault and we haven’t made an arrest yet. But we’re confident that will occur soon.”
The city’s Victim Services Unit is in contact with family members, many of whom are in Edmonton with her.
Cooper, who participated in a march in her honour last week, says the force’s thoughts are with Bird.
“Right now we’re just hopeful she recovers.”