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Man charged with attacking women a 'good person,' mother says

St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver

Richard Lam/The Canadian Press

The mother of a man charged with attempted murder after three women were brutally beaten on Vancouver streets says her son is a "good person" who started experiencing mental-health issues after his father's death.

Nicholas Osuteye, 35, is charged with three counts of attempted murder in connection with Friday's attacks. Mr. Osuteye had, two days earlier, visited a hospital out of concern for his mental health – when he was arrested he was only wearing underwear. The hospital, St. Paul's, has launched a review.

Mercy Osuteye, in her first interview since her son was arrested, told The Globe and Mail her love and prayers are with the victims of the attacks, two of whom are in life-threatening condition. "He's a good person. Nicholas is a very polite young man. Maybe when all this [is over], people will see the other side of him," she said by phone Sunday. " … He wasn't this way until his dad passed away five years ago and triggered that."

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Ms. Osuteye would not disclose what her son suffers from. She said she has not spoken with him since the arrest – she didn't even know he was in Vancouver – but hopes to travel to B.C. from Alberta soon.

"I love my son. I will always love him," she said.

Police say the attacks were random. They occurred within half an hour. No weapons were used. Mr. Osuteye was arrested shortly after. Mr. Osuteye has also been charged with one count of assault and one count of mischief. Police say those charges stem from an attack on an individual inside a car.

None of the allegations against Mr. Osuteye have been proven.

Constable Brian Montague, a Vancouver Police Department spokesman, said officers spoke with Mr. Osuteye two days before the attacks. He approached them and said he was worried about his mental state.

"He spoke with a couple of our officers and expressed concern about his medication, that he did have a mental-health condition. He wanted to see a doctor and he voluntarily went to hospital to do that," Constable Montague said in an interview.

He said police arranged for an ambulance to take Mr. Osuteye to hospital.

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Dan Kalla, head of the emergency department at St. Paul's hospital, said it was his facility where Mr. Osuteye was assessed. Dr. Kalla said Mr. Osuteye met with both an emergency-room physician and a psychiatrist. He said he could not disclose further information – such as how long Mr. Osuteye was at the hospital, or what sort of treatment he received – due to privacy reasons.

Speaking generally, he said, "With respect to mental-health patients, the emergency physician makes a designation, does an initial assessment and diagnosis, and then decides how much further assessment or referral is required."

Dr. Kalla said an initial review has determined that the hospital's guidelines were followed. He said St. Paul's – which saw approximately 6,000 patients in the past fiscal year whose primary complaint was of mental health – will now undertake a comprehensive review. Medical and psychiatric experts will review the file and make recommendations, if necessary.

Vancouver police are still working to confirm information about Mr. Osuteye's background. He is from Alberta and his mother said he obtained his degree from the University of Alberta. His LinkedIn page says he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy.

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