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Man on Greyhound bus traveling to Winnipeg stabbed, then beheaded

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. -- Manitoba RCMP had no answers Thursday as to what prompted a man on a Greyhound bus to suddenly stand up and repeatedly stab his seatmate, behead him and carve up his body in front of horrified passengers.

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. -- Manitoba RCMP had no answers Thursday as to what prompted a man on a Greyhound bus to suddenly stand up and repeatedly stab his seatmate, behead him and carve up his body in front of horrified passengers.

Police would only say that a victim was stabbed on the bus that had left Edmonton for Winnipeg, but passengers described a gruesome, unprovoked attack that left them shaken.

"It's not something that happens regularly on a bus," said Staff Sgt. Steve Colwell. "You're sitting there enjoying your trip and then all of a sudden somebody gets stabbed."

Passengers gave a much more graphic account of events.

"We heard this blood-curdling scream and turned around, and the guy was standing up, stabbing this guy repeatedly, like 40 or 50 times," Garnet Caton said from a hotel in Brandon, Man., where he and other passengers had been taken to rest.

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"There was no rage or anything. He was like a robot, stabbing the guy."

Caton said the bus stopped immediately, just west of Portage La Prairie on Wednesday night, and everyone scrambled to get out while the attacker started methodically carving up the victim's body, not paying attention to anyone else.

Caton and the driver shut the bus door from the outside while they waited for police to arrive.

"We put our bodies up against the door, waiting for him to come out ... and he went back and brought the head to the front and pretty much displayed it ... and dropped it on the ground in front of us," Caton said.

"All very calmly. He was wearing sunglasses. It was no big deal to him."

Fellow passenger Cody Olmstead from Kentville, N.S., also recalled the chilling scene.

"The guy came to the front of the door with buddy's head in his hands, decapitated. He dropped the head and went back and started cutting the body back up," Olmstead said.

When police arrived a few minutes later, passengers were taken away and the officers tried to get the attacker to surrender.

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The man, described as a 40-year-old from outside the province, eventually tried to flee by breaking a bus window and jumping out, Colwell said.

"He was immediately subdued and arrested without incident."

Both Olmstead and Caton said the attacker and the victim appeared not to know each other.

They said the attacker boarded the bus in Brandon on Wednesday night. The victim, who Caton said appeared to be about 19, had been on the bus since it left Edmonton.

The victim and attacker never spoke to each other, Caton said, as the victim was listening to music through headphones.

Police would not confirm the victim's age and said his name would not be released until his family had been notified. The suspect's name wasn't released either.

Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said the full weight of the law must be brought to bear on the perpetrator.

"We want to make sure the process is followed as aggressively as possible, the full legal process ...." Day said from Levis, Que., where Conservative MPs are gathered for a summer planning session.

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"This particular incident, as horrific as it is, is obviously extremely rare. Certainly the horrific nature of it is probably one-of-a-kind in Canadian history."

Greyhound called the event tragic but isolated.

A company spokeswoman said bus travel is the safest mode of transportation, despite the fact bus stations do not have metal detectors and other security measures used at airports.

"Due to the rural nature of our network, airport-type security is not practical. It's a very different type of system," Abby Wambaugh said from Greyhound's corporate offices in Texas.

Passengers had no explanation either as to what might have prompted the attack. The suspect had been on the bus for only about an hour and didn't even sit near his victim at first.

"He sat in the front at first, everything was normal," Caton said.

"We went to the next stop and he got off and had a smoke with another young lady there. When he got on the bus again, he came to the back near where I was sitting.

"He put his bags in the overhead compartment. He didn't say a word to anybody. He seemed totally normal. About a half an hour later, we heard this blood-curdling scream."

RCMP had not yet talked to the suspect, Colwell said.

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