Hatchet Attack in Downtown

A middle-aged credit union employee was allegedly attacked by a young woman wielding a hatchet outside her office, according to witness accounts.


The woman was walking metres away from her office around 8:30 a.m. when she was allegedly approached by a group of young women, including one youth with a hatchet.


Bystanders quickly intervened and the woman fought off her attackers but sustained injuries to her head.

I was one of those bystanders, though only the third on the scene. The first person to respond did an incredible job of taking control and she should be commended. I have to embarrassingly say that I didn’t even realize what was happening just down the street from me until I saw the other two get involved. The second person to jump in should be commended as well. He jumped in even though he was only driving by – many many cars passed by without stopping.
I’m sitting in my apartment office and looking out the window at the scene of the attempted armed robbery after spending the day at Educational PD sessions during which I heard from the incredible Strini Reddy who spoke about these kind of youths, the responsibility of the community, and the responsibility of the Education system – and how we can work to break the cycle of violence, poverty, and crime.

I’ll have to process things a bit more and then comment later. Maybe I’ll go make dinner for now.

PS: This puts Jamie’s comments on Walk-Score into perspective.

UPDATE: I will try in the next few days to give you all a full account of what I saw and did. But, for now, there is little time tonight as I’m creating a Logarithm and Exponent Test. So, I haven’t been able to write a complete piece about the incident. For the moment, I’m thinking about Sir/Saint Thomas More’s book Utopia in which he describes the effects of the death penalty for theft – noting that England killed tons of thieves and yet they continued to exist in bigger numbers. How can this be? As it turns out, More postulates, if society is structured in such a way as to produce thieves then it produces them regardless of deterrents. So, the answer is to analyse and address root causes instead of proximal causes. Since More, we have made some progress. The correlaries of violent robberies committed by young offenders are now known – violence at home, broken homes, alcoholism, FAS, FAE, drug abuse, abusive parents, poverty, and any many more. While we know this, we have not done enough to fix the problems and have (acidentally or not) done some things to extend them (such as residential schools).

At the same time, none of the above justifies the actions of the girls involved. They deserve consequences which fit their crimes. But, we also need to invest in preventing the creation of future hatchet-wielding teens. And, we need to invest – for now – in police presence in the communities and on the streets. There is no panacea. But, long-term investment in OUR children, Winnipeg’s children, will reduce violence and crime.

Finally, we need to honor the victim who courageously resisted the assault and the two bystanders who jumped in to help save her.

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7 responses to “Hatchet Attack in Downtown

  1. What we don’t need is more and more police, which will just create a “police state”. We don’t want that Moreau. Noooooo.

    What MIGHT work is one of the things you suggest is the cause of delinquency… kids growing up in so-called “broken homes”…. To reverse this just repeal the damn Divorce Law already. Stir. Repeat.

  2. I’m certainly not an advocate of a police state, Jim. I don’t think that’s what I’m advocating. Police are not a perfect solution – I agree. But, they do serve a vital role within a larger justice structure.

    As for Divorce Law – you’ve got to be kidding me. Are you then advocating – in some cases – that abused persons who are living in violence should have no way of escape? Are you saying that the couple million happily divorced couples – who may be both better off – should be forced together by the police state? Repealing divorce would only send violence elsewhere and forcibly make millions of Canadians unhappy. The state should have no business dictating with whom citizens must live.

  3. The evidence appears to be on Donald Street’s side.

    From an item dated Mar. 12 in The Economist: “Other research shows that divorce and lower fertility are linked to less domestic violence.”

    From Stevenson and Wolfers, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Feb. 2006: “Between 1976 and 1985 states that had changed their divorce laws to allow unilateral divorce saw their overall and severe domestic violence rates fall by about one-third.”

  4. God, what a backward, misogynistic, out-of-date post by Jim…you think there weren’t any attacks years ago when there was no divorce act?

  5. @Chris:

    I had tried to be diplomatic with Jim this morning, but you are right, this is extremely backward. Hearing this story on the radio today reminded me that such a view is nuts. He accuses me of wanting a police state for asking for a couple more cops on the beat in downtown Winnipeg but he is fine with the state literally forcing millions of Canadians to live in situations that don’t work – and would subject thousands of women to violence. Yeap, clearly I’m the police state advocate.

    @View From Seven:

    Thanks for the quotes. Its vital that discussions on blogs revolve around real research, facts, statistics, critical analysis, and such. Otherwise, we run the risk of becomming the Winnipeg Sun.

  6. Harrison Bergeron

    Be aware that it’s quite common for not only civil but criminal lawyers to use the services of researchers who among other things do on going internet keyword searches.

    That isn’t meant to cast a pall on you relating your experiences, but public admissions such as you made about second guessing the coat colour, etc. for example could **hypothetically** provide a defendant’s attorney with a line of questioning that could create doubt in your testimony should it be required at a trial.

    I empathize with your comments on blogs, real research, facts, etc, but at this point IMHO the responsible course is to do so judiciously.

    Now having said all that –

    AFAIC you’re to be commended for becoming involved thwarting in a crime of violence without regard to your personal safety that could have resulted in even much more serious events. I’m glad you weren’t physically injured, and I sincerely hope that the proper tribute and recognition is paid to both you and the fellow in the car who intervened, at some point in the future.

  7. Hi Harrison,

    Great points. As for my involvement – as the other post notes, it was minor and at late to the game. The other two to jump in did so faster, earlier, and had a bigger impact.

    For the attorneys, I’m well-aware of these searches. They should expect witness uncertainty. They would be foolish not to expect uncertainty. I’m in the business of uncertainty – teaching – and recognize that there are always doubts and different stories. Are they reasonable? Maybe. Are they enough to raise reasonable doubts? Perhaps if I were the only witness, yes. Perhaps with other witnesses, security cameras, a weapon, finger prints, etc…any doubt about colour of jackets fades away. But, that is the world in which we live. It is not clear-cut and simple and lawyers would not expect certainty from witnesses. The difference between myself and other witnesses is that I would expect and be prepared for that line of questioning and I will tell the truth as I see it. If imperfect memory is equivalent to reasonable doubt, then no conviction could ever stand. But, these are different things.

    This discussion reminds me of the movie Rashomon – first Japanese academy award winner for best film. A slew of people witness a murder and none of their testimony matches – and, all of it is demonstrably false. Even the ghost of the dead is conjured up to testify and her story is shown to be inconsistent.

    Thanks for popping by, Harrison. I appreciate the advice and comments.

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