‘I smelt the gun powder’: Winnipeg man and his kids narrowly escape West End convenience store before police shooting

A Winnipeg man says his children are traumatized after he and the kids got stuck in the West End convenience store with a machete-wielding suspect moments before he was shot by police Thursday night.

Edward Fitzgerald was in the 7-11 at Ellice Avenue and Arlington Street with his nine-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son around 5:45 p.m. when he says a group of teens charged in.

“I thought it was going to be a little candy-grab … but one guy pushed my son out of the way and he pulled out his weapon,” Fitzgerald told Global News Friday.

“I looked and I was like, oh my God the place is being robbed — he had a pretty big knife.”

He says there were four or five people involved, including two male suspects with knives.

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READ MORE: Updated: Winnipeg police shoot teen at West End 7-Eleven during armed robbery

He said the armed suspect swung a knife toward the teller and told them to open the register.

At the same time, he was trying to get out of the store with his kids, but the door was locked.

“As he was screaming at her to open up the till, I’m screaming at her to open the door because me and my kids were locked in,” said Fitzgerald.

“I kept banging the door, kept kicking and kicking, I was screaming ‘open the door, open the door’.”

Edward Fitzgerald and his kids were in the West End 7-11 when it was robbed Thursday.
Edward Fitzgerald and his kids were in the West End 7-11 when it was robbed Thursday. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Fitzgerald said the employees behind the counter opened the till and fled to the back, leaving he and his kids alone in the store with the armed suspects.

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He said he couldn’t believe what was happening.

“It all escalated so fast … I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

“What happens if we got locked in there and the police showed up and the next you know our situation goes from customers to hostages?”

“Who knows what could have happened.”

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Finally, Fitzgerald said he somehow got the door open and he and his kids made a break for it.

All but one of the suspects took off too, he said, leaving one-armed male stuck in the store.

Fitzgerald and his kids ran around the corner just as police were pulling into the parking lot.

Shooting at Winnipeg 7-Eleven leaves armed robbery suspect, police officer injured

Shooting at Winnipeg 7-Eleven leaves armed robbery suspect, police officer injured

Moments later he said he watched as an officer opened fire on the suspect that had been trapped in the store.

“Next thing you know I’m right there on the side of the building and I hear ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’,” he said

“I smelt the gun powder and saw the smoke — I was that close.

READ MORE: Hard to question actions in the moment of 7-Eleven incident, says police use-of-force expert

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“It was insane, it was like out of a movie, you don’t expect to see that.”

Dramatic video of the incident quickly made the rounds on social media Thursday night.

On Friday police said a 16-year-old boy had been shot and was rushed to hospital in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to critical but stable condition.

Police have not confirmed whether or not other suspects were involved.

Police continued to investigate at the scene of the shooting Friday.
Police continued to investigate at the scene of the shooting Friday. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Fitzgerald said his daughter had nightmares Thursday night and will likely need counselling.

“She’s only nine, so she’s traumatized,” he said. “It’s everywhere, people are just so brazen these days.

“It’s almost like do I want to go to 7-11 anymore? Do I want to go to any convenience stores? It’s ridiculous now days.”

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Police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver said Friday police have yet to lay any charges, as the suspect remains in the hospital.

–With files from Joe Scarpelli

Winnipeg police talk about use-of-force following officer-involved shooting

Winnipeg police talk about use-of-force following officer-involved shooting

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