A groomer who works at a dog daycare in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface neighbourhood is thankful to be alive after a woman armed with a loaded semi-automatic rifle walked into the vestibule on Saturday afternoon.
Lucille Austria was grooming a dog at The Dog Loft, on Marion Street between Braemar and Traverse avenues, at about 3:30 p.m.
When she repositioned to groom the other side of the dog, she caught a glimpse of the woman who had the gun laid out in front of them on a planter.
Austira put the dog away in a safe place and immediately called 911 for help, and told other staff members to stay quiet and out of sight.
“If the person was to turn, were they going to come back into the building? Were they going to start shooting? Like I had no idea what would happen,” she said.
Before the police arrived, Austria said a man walked up and attempted to de-escalate the situation.
Austria saw the woman being arrested, and nobody was hurt, she says.
Katie Heinrichs owns The Dog Loft, and calls the man who intervened a hero.
“From what I hear, he was just walking by and didn’t hesitate to to step in,” Heinrichs said, adding that she doesn’t know who the man is.
“I know that he offered her a sandwich and he had a conversation with her. And even the police officer said that he played a huge role in the positive outcome. It could have been a lot worse had he not been there.”
Heinrichs, who wasn’t there at the time, says this has never happened before and that the armed woman isn’t a client.
When she heard what was happening, Heinrichs rushed to the shop to make sure everyone was okay.
“It was scary. It was it was nerve-racking. When I came in, I made sure all my staff were OK, but we’re all traumatized and I think they’re all a little bit shocked,” she said.
Neither Austria nor Heinrichs are sure of the woman’s reason for why she was there.
The Winnipeg Police Service’s Public Information Office was closed over the weekend, but a spokesperson from the duty office, which answers media questions when PIO is unable to, said police responded to a call at the Dog Loft.
Austria says she’s still nervous about going to work, but is happy with how she and the team responded.
“We try to provide the best of the best care and we try to keep everybody as safe as possible, which I believe our team did in that situation, we knew what to do to keep our client safe, to keep the dog safe and to keep the team members safe.”