A dog groomer who works at a dog daycare in the St. Boniface neighborhood of Winnipeg is grateful to be alive after a woman walked into the vestibule with a loaded semi-automatic rifle on Saturday afternoon.
At around 3:30 p.m., Lucille Austria groomed a dog in The Dog Loft on Marion Street between Braemar and Traverse Streets
As she repositioned herself to brush the other side of the dog, she caught a glimpse of the woman who was holding the gun on a planter in front of her.
Austria put the dog in a safe place and immediately called 911 for help, telling other staff to stay calm and out of sight.
“If the person turned around, would they come back into the building? Would you start filming? As if I had no idea what was going to happen, ”she said.
Before the police arrived, Austria said a man came up to him and tried to de-escalate the situation.
Austria witnessed the arrest of the woman and no one was injured, she says.
Katie Heinrichs owns The Dog Loft and calls the man who intervened a hero.
“The way I hear he just walked past and didn’t hesitate to intervene,” said Heinrichs, adding that she didn’t know who the man was.
“I know he offered her a sandwich and talked to her. And even the policeman said he was a big part of the positive result. It could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t been there.”
Heinrichs, who was not there at the time, says it has never happened before and the armed woman is not a customer.
When she heard what was going on, Heinrichs rushed into the shop to make sure everyone was okay.
“It was scary. It was nerve-wracking. When I walked in, I made sure all of my staff were okay, but we’re all traumatized and I think they’re all a little bit shocked,” she said.
Neither Austria nor Heinrichs know why the woman was there.
Loaded semi-automatic rifle confiscated
A 37-year-old woman from Winnipeg was charged with multiple firearms offenses in connection with the incident, police said in a press release.
Police say they confiscated a loaded Ruger SR-22 semi-automatic rifle .22 caliber from the woman when she was taken into custody.
Const. Jay Murray of the Winnipeg Police Service said officials who responded to the call wanted to praise the 53-year-old man who stepped in to de-escalate the situation until they could get there.
“We really don’t know what the result could have been,” he said.
Murray said the police weren’t sure what made the woman go into the store with a gun. He said he was surprised to see the type of weapon confiscated.
“It’s especially unusual to find a gun like this loaded like this,” he said.
The serial number has been tampered with, so police are still investigating where the gun came from, he said.
Austria at Dog Loft says she is still nervous about going to work but is happy with the reaction from her and the team.
“We try to provide the best possible care and try to keep everyone as safe as possible, which I think our team did in this situation to protect the team members.”