Manitoba

Workers relieved no one hurt after woman shows up armed with loaded gun at Winnipeg dog daycare

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.

Dog Loft owner thanks mystery man who helped de-escalate the situation

Katie Heinrichs is grateful to the police who helped make sure her staff were safe, as well as the mystery man who helped de-escalate the situation before police arrived. (Submitted by Katie Heinrichs)

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 her on a planter.

Austria 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.

Loaded semi-automatic rifle seized 

A 37-year-old woman from Winnipeg has been charged with multiple firearms offences related to the incident, police said in a news release. 

Police say they seized a loaded Ruger SR-22 semi-automatic .22 calibre rifle from the woman when she was taken into custody. 

Winnipeg police say they seized this gun from a woman who allegedly attended the Dog Loft on Marion Street Sunday afternoon. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service )

Const. Jay Murray with the Winnipeg Police Service say officers who responded to the call wanted to commend 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 outcome could have been," he said. 

Murray said police are not sure what motivated the woman to attend the business with a gun. He said he was surprised to see the type of gun that was seized. 

"It's especially uncommon to find a firearm like this that's loaded to that extent," he said. 

The serial number was tampered with, so police are still investigating where the firearm came from, he said. 

Austria at the Dog Loft 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."

With files from Sarah Petz

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