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Somerset West community mourns 'senseless' death of Carl Reinboth; 20-year-old man faces murder charge

Ottawa Citizen logo Ottawa Citizen 2021-04-25 Taylor Blewett
a vase of flowers on a table: People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday. © Provided by Ottawa Citizen People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday.
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A blossoming memorial to beloved community member and harm reduction worker Carl Reinboth now sits at the corner of Somerset Street West and Arthur Street, where Reinboth was found with life-threatening injuries after what police believe was a random stabbing Friday morning.

Reinboth, 64, was taken to a local hospital and later pronounced dead, according to Ottawa police.

“It’s hard for me … to think this is where he fell because this is the neighbourhood he loved, and the people he loved,” Robert Jamison (known by many as Bobby J) said as he visited the memorial Saturday afternoon.

“He was an awesome person,” said Jamison, who volunteers at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, where Reinboth was a staff member, not even a five-minute walk from the intersection where police were called to respond at 9:41 a.m. Friday. Reinboth also lived nearby.

“This is his home, these are his people, and this is a community loss,” Jamison said.

“Everybody’s just struggling with processing this, and the senselessness of it all.”

a person standing on a sidewalk:  People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday. A memorial along Somerset Street grew steadily on Saturday. © Ashley Fraser People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday. A memorial along Somerset Street grew steadily on Saturday.

A 20-year-old Ottawa man has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to Reinboth’s death. He also faces charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder after a second stabbing on Somerset Street West between Percy Street and Cambridge Street North. An 84-year-old man was rushed to hospital approximately two hours after police found Reinboth.

Ottawa police Det. Kevin Jacobs told this newspaper that the 84-year-old remained in hospital as of mid-day Saturday, listed in serious but stable condition.

The police investigation was ongoing, but Jacobs said it was not a matter of figuring out what happened; it was about the why.

“This is craziness,” said Gloria, an area resident known in the community as Mamma G.

She just saw Reinboth on Wednesday, when he and another worker came to her house on Arthur Street after the passing of her dog, Patty, to take her pet’s body away. Gloria remembered what Reinboth said to her.

“I hope everything’s good with you, Mamma, and it will ease in time.”

Reinboth was an “amazing man,” Gloria said, and “a great support worker.” She was among the clients he helped. “If someone needed him, he was always there.”

Reinboth had lived experience with drug use and, after quitting in 1992, was able to channel that experience into a job. In addition to harm reduction work, he was involved with Community Veterinary Outreach, helping people experiencing homelessness, those using substances and other disadvantaged pet owners care for their animals.

“It’s going to be a big gap in this community. He was there for a lot of people that needed him, and it took a lot of years for him to build that trust with these folks. That’s not replaceable. It’s like losing an elder. You can’t replace that,” Jamison said.

a group of shoes on the sidewalk:  The memorial for Carl Reinboth, who was killed Friday, included this chalk note left on the sidewalk on Somerset Street West. © Ashley Fraser The memorial for Carl Reinboth, who was killed Friday, included this chalk note left on the sidewalk on Somerset Street West.

When Jamison’s girlfriend visited the intersection to lay flowers on Saturday morning, a candle and a photo of Reinboth were already at the scene. By afternoon, there were bouquets of flowers, notes and messages chalked on the sidewalk. “Rest in power,” one read.

“It’ll continue to grow as people hear what happened and realize who it was,” Jamison said. “A lot of the folks that he worked with, they probably haven’t even registered who it was … I’m really worried about that.”

“Folks that are already vulnerable, already struggling — it shakes up their world that much more. It makes the voices that much louder, you know.”

Spiros Eliopoulos said he first met Reinboth after moving into the neighbourhood five years ago. Reinboth was hyper “in a good way” and could be a bit of a clown.

“I’m in shock still,” remarked Eliopoulos, who said he had been on and off the streets for four decades and had lost 41 people in three and a half years, with causes ranging from overdoses to cancer.

“Carl was well-loved,” Eliopoulos said. “He had faith in each and every one of us.”

What to tell people struggling with the loss?

“Share the grief. Don’t carry it,” Jamison said. “That’s what community’s for … It’s not for us to carry by ourselves, it’s for us to come together and share with each other.”

The accused in Reinboth’s death appeared in court Saturday morning via video link from the cellblock at the Ottawa Police Service headquarters on Elgin Street.

He provided his name and date of birth, but repeatedly got up and tried to close the door to the space he was in. He was taken back to his cell, where the remainder of the appearance was conducted via audio over the lead investigator’s cellphone.

A publication ban on other details was ordered Saturday morning by the justice of the peace who heard the matter.

The matter was adjourned to May 21, allowing defence counsel time to receive some disclosure from the Crown. Michael Smith, who’s currently representing the accused, said the present intention was to enter a not-guilty plea.

“Whenever someone’s faced with a charge of murder, whether it be first- or second-(degree), the initial response would be a not guilty. And we’ll see if that changes down the road, depending on the information they have and the strength of the Crown’s case and the defences that are available to us,” Smith said.

The accused doesn’t have a criminal record, Smith said, and is new to the criminal justice system.

“This young kid is not a rounder, he’s not someone who, you know, based upon the information I received, was known to the police, and so there’s a lot going on right now for him, on a number of levels.”

a group of people standing on a sidewalk:  People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday. © Ashley Fraser People paid their respects, left chalk notes, flowers and cookies for Carl Reinboth, a harm reduction worker at the Somerset West Community Health Centre, who was killed Friday.
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