Law firms target of bombings, shooting

Police have arrested a man in relation to explosive devices discovered at two Winnipeg law firms in recent days.
On Friday, an explosion occurred at the law offices of Petersen King on River Avenue that left lawyer Maria Mitousis, 38, with serious injuries to her hands, throat and stomach. Police said on Monday she remains in hospital and noted her condition had stabilized and she has been able to speak to officers.

Police investigated a second explosive device on Saturday and a third at the law firm Orle Barkman and Davidson on Stradbrook Avenue on Sunday.

Police had earlier called the original bombing an isolated incident but have since charged Guido Amsel, 49, with two counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and a number of counts related to the possession of explosive devices. They are suggesting he has targeted his ex-wife as well as legal counsel who have represented either her or himself in the past.

Members of the bar in the city are staying alert and looking carefully at packages before they open them, said Sofia Mizra, president of the Manitoba Bar Association.

According to police, the devices discovered so far have had distinct packaging and “unique” block lettering. Due to the Canada Day holidays last week, police believe any further packages will likely emerge in the next day or so.

Mizra emphasizes that issues of threats and potential violence are not new to many lawyers who are often involved in very emotional circumstances with their clients, but the situation with the bombings is obviously extreme. Lawyers and judges, particularly in the area of family law, are often on the receiving end of the anger from unhappy parties.

“When litigants hear something they don’t want to hear, they can take matters into their own hands,” she said. “We have some brave lawyers in our community.”

According to Manitoba court records, Mitousis had represented Iris Amsel in family litigation against Guido that dates back to 2004 as well as a separate case filed in 2010 dealing with a numbered company. Manitoba court records show Guido has also faced other small claims litigation matters over the years.

According to the CBC, police on Sunday deployed the bomb unit as part of the their investigation to two businesses, including EuroTech Auto Body. That business is among the defendants, along with Guido, named in the lawsuit launched by Iris involving the numbered company.

The incidents follow another tragic situation involving members of the legal community in Quebec. According to the CBC, lawyer Benoït Côté, 51, and notary Marie-Josée Sills, 30, died in hospital Saturday after a shooting at a law office in Terrebonne, Que., on Thursday.

Côté had once represented Michel Dubuc, a man found dead in his home on Friday along with the bodies of his two sons. Côté had been facing a $1.2-million lawsuit filed by Dubuc, the CBC reported.

Longueuil, Que., police spokesman Tommy Lacroix told the Canadian Press the timeline of events and motives behind the shooting had yet to be established but that autopsies were going to be conducted.

This article originally appeared on Canadian Lawyer's Legal Feeds blog, a sister publication of COS.