Two years after moving to city, Transcona couple plan to leave after back lane carjacking at gunpoint Shocking early morning crime follows stray bullet from drive-by shooting striking house
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What began as a normal morning for Transcona resident Tracy Jones quickly spiralled into terror when she found herself staring down the barrel of a gun while getting ready to leave for work Wednesday.
“I thought this neighbourhood was safe, so I just kind of left it running,” she told the Free Press, recounting how she left her SUV idling on the parking pad behind her house.
The 30-year-old Concordia Hospital clerical worker spied a silver sedan creeping through the rear laneway. She noticed the car didn’t have a licence plate, which raised her suspicions. When it stopped behind her home and a female passenger stepped out, she knew something was wrong.
“I ran outside and I started yelling, and she gets into the driver side (of my car),” Jones said. “I don’t know why, but I decided to open the passenger door and get into the car.”
Jones confronted the woman — who she says was dressed entirely in red and appeared to be no older than 18 — calling her a thief and demanding she get out of the vehicle.
“I was not panicky… I think adrenaline was definitely there,” Jones said. “She showed me the gun and put it to my face and said, ‘Get out of the car and go back inside.’”
She complied, stepping out of her vehicle and watching the woman speed away.
She immediately phoned the police, who arrived within an hour.
“She showed me the gun and put it to my face and said, ‘Get out of the car and go back inside.’”–Tracy Jones
She said her initial bravery gave way to fear and anxiety as she struggled to come to terms with what occurred.
“There were lots of tears,” she said. “I am very panicky now. I don’t want to do things alone, and I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. I shake all the time, so I’m just trying not to do that… I’m worried I will be dealing with this for a while.”
Carjackings on the rise
The Winnipeg Police Service confirmed Thursday that major crimes unit officers are investigating. The WPS provided data on the annual number of carjackings, which has risen dramatically in recent years. Between January and August, 111 had been reported to police, compared to the 125 reported for the entirety of 2021.
The numbers have risen nearly every year since 2013, when only 19 carjackings were reported. The biggest jump occurred between 2017 and 2018, when the number more than doubled from 50 to 103.
A review of 2022 WPS press releases revealed multiple carjacking victims have been injured.
The WPS did not comment specifically on Jones’ case, but said residents should never leave unattended vehicles running, especially during the winter.
Jones’ husband Cameron Bugera was in the shower when the vehicle was stolen. He said he’s grateful Jones wasn’t hurt.
“My first feeling was, ‘What can I do for my wife to support her emotionally?” he said, adding the ordeal has left them both feeling frustrated and hyper-vigilant.
“She was OK at the beginning and OK when the police got there, but as the day progressed and the shock wore off, she regressed… I’m kicking myself that was the timing of it, so there was nothing I could have done.”
Bugera was grateful for the police response; he said they arrived quickly and were able to calm his wife.
And he’s hoping their maroon 2013 Suburu Crosstrek, which has a large crack across the front windshield — will be recovered.
Planning to leave Winnipeg
He and Jones moved to Winnipeg from Niverville two years ago. Not long after their arrival in the city, a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting struck their home. After Wednesday’s violence, they plan to sell the house and leave the city.
“I was just starting to feel OK… and then this happened,” Jones said. “I’m just kind of tired and done. This is not something anybody deserves… if you want to live in the city, you should feel that you’re safe to be here.”
University of Manitoba psychology professor Ed Johnson said violent, life-threatening events — particularly those perpetrated by others (as opposed to natural disasters) — can manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder.
”If you want to live in the city, you should feel that you’re safe to be here.”–Cameron Bugera
In the aftermath of trauma, some people suffer flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, night terrors, anxiety and bouts of dissociation. In some cases, they may not want to return to the place where an incident occurred.
“The most important thing would be to think through how you want to cope with it, recognizing that you will need to find ways to cope with it,” he said, adding not every person who experiences trauma will develop PTSD.
“People respond differently and if they want to seek help, there are lots of types of help available.”
Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).