Witnesses describe frantic scene as Winnipeg mall employee stabbed trying to stop shoplifter

An employee at one of Winnipeg's busiest shopping centres was injured and sent to hospital after trying to stop a shoplifter on Thursday.

Youth arrested after man sent to hospital with injuries following incident at Polo Park

A teenage suspect has been charged with robbery, aggravated assault and possessing a weapon after an employee was attacked at Foot Locker in Polo Park Thursday. (Warren Kay/CBC)

A young man working at one of Winnipeg's busiest shopping centres was stabbed in the neck while trying to stop a shoplifter on Thursday evening, witnesses say.

The employee was working at the Foot Locker store on the second floor of Polo Park mall when he confronted a 17-year-old boy trying to steal several articles of clothing, according to police.

Melvina Guiboche and her husband, Dakotah Guiboche, were paying for purchases at the store's till around 8:20 p.m., when they heard an employee yelling that someone had been caught shoplifting.

They say the situation was calm at first, with employees blocking each of the store's two exits while they waited for security to arrive.

Dakotah Guiboche and Melvina Guiboche were at the Foot Locker store at the time of the incident. (Warren Kay/CBC)

But Dakotah said that all changed the alleged shoplifter pulled out a knife and tried to make a break for it.

'The kid could have bled out'

He says he saw the teen hit the victim in the neck with a weapon as he tried to get out of the store.

"At first I didn't know that it was a stab wound. I just thought that the suspect was just going for a punch — until I saw the blood on the floor," he said.

"Right then and there, I knew it was very real what was happening.

"All it takes is a millimetre over from the puncture wound to hit a jugular, and the kid could have bled out and lost his life, and for what? A petty little theft?"

Foot Locker staff subdue a male Wednesday evening. (Submitted by Herbo Banks)

The couple says employees were able to disarm the attacker and hold him until security arrived. Melvina said the couple prayed with the victim while police were called.

"He was so confused, and you could tell he was so scared," said Melvina, who said the victim told her he was 19-years-old. "Everyone was so frantic, you could tell they've never dealt with a situation like this before.

"He was just holding his neck and there was blood coming and he was panicking and scared."

Charges laid

Tara Maslowsky, who works a few steps from Foot Locker, also witnessed the incident.

"You could see that there were two people down, lying on the floor. One of them was in cuffs and there was another person lying on the floor, that was actually a Foot Locker employee," she said, adding she could see blood on the floor.

"Nobody knew what exactly had happened at that point, but it was quite a scary scene."

Police say they were called around 8:30 p.m. to the mall and arrested a teen. The victim was taken to hospital in unstable condition by has since been upgraded to stable.

A spokesperson from Foot Locker says they are working closely with police and have launched their own internal investigation.

First responders attend to a staff member at Foot Locker in Polo Park. (Submitted by Melvina and Dakota Guiboche)

The teen is charged with robbery, aggravated assault and possessing a weapon.

Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver says people should never intervene in a crime unless they think someone is at risk. He says the suspect could be high on methamphetamine, which may make them more aggressive.

If it's simply to protect a piece of property, says Carver, intervening in a theft is just not worth it.

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