The organization representing business owners in Saskatoon’s Riversdale neighbourhood wants a permanent police presence to return to their area after a brazen attack Tuesday afternoon.
Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra executive director Mark Turner was stabbed in the face with the blunt end of a fork after a man wandered into the SSO’s 20th Street office around 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
The man then walked out and was later seen by witnesses after police had left the area.
One of those people was Riversdale Business Improvement District (BID) executive director Randy Pshebylo.
“I walked past and asked the lady sitting on the bench (nearby) to just step inside a building to make sure she wasn’t lunged at,” he told 650 CKOM on Thursday.
They kept their distance from the man until police officers arrive, but they had a hard time subduing the man without backup.
“They managed to get him down to the ground, and I helped hold his legs because he was thrashing quite a bit,” Pshebylo said, noting he continued to help until more police arrived.
The SSO said on Wednesday they practice an open-door policy, with patrons often coming in to browse and buy tickets for upcoming performances.
Pshebylo said after the attack, business owners he’s speaking to are maintaining they want to keep leaving their doors open.
“This is a place where we encourage people to walk and come in and out of stores,” he said.
Instead, the leader of the Riversdale BID would like to see Saskatoon police step up their presence in the area.
He noted there had been a permanent officer placement for years before the new headquarters were built when police had operated out of the Little Chief Service Station — essentially across the street from SSO’s office.
“(The attack) certainly raises the question of the availability of police presence that we used to enjoy,” Pshebylo said.
The neighbourhood has been trying to lobby the board of police commissioners to assign a graffiti prevention officer to Riversdale already. But now they may add in conversations to step up daily patrols.
Pshebylo also called the incident a “wake up call” on how mental illness and addictions need to be addressed in Saskatoon.
He suggested people with known addictions and mental health issues dangerous to the public should be “securely housed with supervision.”