PASSERSBY jumped in to help a woman fend off a hatchet-wielding girl on a downtown street Monday morning.
The Crosstown Civic Credit Union loans administration officer -- whom her boss declined to identify in an interview with the Free Press -- was on the last few steps of her walk from the bus stop to her work on Donald Street near St. Mary Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. when she was accosted by teenage girls.
They walked behind her and threatened to take her purse. In the scuffle, the woman was hit in the head with the hatchet. Two people passing by jumped in to help her as she struggled to take the hatchet away from one of the teenage girls.
One of the women's co-workers intervened. As well, a man driving by -- a reluctant hero who would only give his name as Gilbert -- pulled his car over and jumped into the fray.
"I didn't see the axe until I got there," said Gilbert. "I just went for the axe and grabbed it." He and the woman managed to wrench it from the girl's hands. The teen ran off through a parking lot with another girl who had been standing nearby. The victim was bleeding from a wound on the left side of her head, but she would not give up the struggle, said Gilbert, adding she was a real fighter in the face of what he called a purse snatching gone wrong. "(The co-worker) was yelling, 'Let it go.'"
Crosstown Civic branch manager Herb Neufeld, the woman's boss, said the entire incident occurred less than 10 metres from the front door of the credit union at 171 Donald St.
"It's a wake-up call to be alert to your surroundings," said Neufeld. "It's pretty shocking this kind of thing can happen in broad daylight."
The injured woman sat down on the credit union's steps and witnesses and co-workers called police and ambulance.
As she was loaded into the ambulance later, she waved at her helpers, Neufeld said. That and her resilience in the fight didn't surprise him.
"She is by her nature very feisty," he said.
A police spokesman said the woman was taken to hospital in stable condition.
He said six girls were in police custody later Monday in connection with the incident.
Division 11 detectives are investigating.