I was a witness to the hatchet attack on Donald Street yesterday, just outside my apartment.
Here’s what I recall:
I happened to be walking by because Pembina Trails School Division had its professional development seminar at the Concert Hall – so I didn’t take an earlier bus to FRC. I was heading to the Concert Hall for the 9am start and felt a little rushed and tired that morning. I remember leaving the front door of my apartment just after 8:30am and the manager said good morning. He commented on the weather and so did I – standard conversation stuff. I’m very sure it was after 8:30am because the CBC news had begun when I walked out my apartment and then I had at least a minute to get downstairs.
I turned north out the door and headed in the direction of the Credit Union. For all I know, the attempted armed robbery was already started before I began walking North, but I don’t know. I only became aware that something was happening after I had crossed York and then to the other side of Donald. I looked up and realized that two people were fighting with a third girl partially involved. From my vantage point, I couldn’t tell who was the attacker and who wasn’t, plus I was half a block away still. I wasn’t even sure that this was anything more than a couple kids playing around.
Then, I saw the first bystander get involved. She ran in from North of the fight and was yelling. The yelling got my attention and woke me up to the fact that this was serious. She yelled “Get off of her now!”, but I still couldn’t tell who was “on” whom, nor had I yet seen the weapon. I went quickly after the woman was rushing in, and as I went towards the fight a man got out of a car next to the fight and joined the woman in breaking it up. When I was right over the scene, it was only then that I saw that the woman attacked was on the ground and bleeding from the head – she also had the hatchet firmly in her hands. I looked up from the hatchet and saw that the girls realized that all was lost and were running away. I went down the sidewalk to where I could see them as they ran behind the Credit Union to between York the Hotel and Place Louis Riel and grabbed for my cell phone. I had placed it in my backpack, ringer off for the conference, and it took a few moments to find it.
8:33 is the time on the cell of when I called. That means that – at most – 2 minutes had passed since I had the weather conversation. These things happen so fast and if you are not alert they go by without noticing. Weird.
On the phone, I gave a description of the girl who had been mostly involved in the fight – including her red jacket. Police picked her (and others) up within 30 minutes and brought her back to the scene. After I gave the description, other witnesses told me that the jacket was brown and that the second girl had one arm inside her jacket – like it was in a sling. That might explain why she was only passively involved. But, the brown-vs-red thing stuck with me! What if I was wrong on the colour! I hadn’t noticed the hatchet till I was standing over it – so I could be wrong on the colour. But, I was sure that walking around the corner to see them run away, I had had a good look. When the police drove her back to the scene, we all agreed that they had the right girl – and the jacket was red!
So, I had one detail right. But, I had so many details wrong. I didn’t realize that the girls were the attackers at first. I didn’t realize that there was a weapon until late. I didn’t see that one of the girls had an arm in a sling or in her jacket. These are BIG details! I can see why mistakes are made by people arriving on scenes like this and how hard it must be for police to sort out details.
After the attack, the weapon was in the hands of the guy who got out of the car – but I think that the attack victim had wrestled the weapon herself. (not sure) He put in down on the steps of the Credit Union – where two managers quickly stood over it to cover things up. The first the arrive on the scene was CBC and second was the Free Press photographer. Paramedics were a distant third. It’s the FP shot above, which was taken mid-sentence as police carried it away. He had to take that shot in a second after the weapon was picked up and before the police stored it. Quick work. After the attack, things went slowly. I noticed a Tim Horton’s (likely double-double) spilled on the ground and basically stood and waited to talk to police with nothing to do. It was so slow and eventually I called my wife, who was up in the apartment watching emergency vehicles on the scene.
As mentioned in the earlier post, the first two people to jump in should be commended. They got involved before things were under control and took action to protect the woman attacked. The attack victim should also be commended for putting up a fight to protect herself. As it later turns out, these girls may have been involved in multiple incidents that morning and were finally caught as the fled this scene – having been disarmed and scared away by these people. They should all be congratulated.
So, that’s all I know. Not a great tale of me heroically running to the rescue and arriving just in time – that would be good for the ego. But, it’s the truth. I watched the end of the fight, realized too late what was happening, and made a phone call. If I have grandkids, though, I’ll be sure to spice it up for them.