‘Customer’ holds up Watt Street store, fires weapon beside lone clerk’s head
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A retail worker who became the victim of a robbery Wednesday night said the thief continued to “shop” for 15 minutes, after stealing money from the register and discharging a weapon beside her head.
Rose Watson was working alone in the 200 block of Watt Street around 9 p.m., when a man entered the business two minutes before closing.
He browsed for five minutes before coming to the till, producing what appeared to be a pistol and pointing it at Watson’s head, demanding she empty the cash register, she said.
The 20-year-old Winnipeg woman complied without arguing, but the suspect fired the weapon to the side of her face.
“This is scary. This is Winnipeg,” Watson said, speaking from behind the counter of the business one day after the robbery.
“In that moment, all you can think is, ‘My life is on the line.’ The best thing you can do is be compliant.”
“In that moment, all you can think is, ‘My life is on the line.’ The best thing you can do is be compliant.”–Rose Watson
Watson said the suspect continued to “shop,” demanding she remove specific merchandise from behind the store’s glass counter.
After roughly 15 minutes, he fled on foot.
She did not get a good look at the suspect’s face because he was wearing a baseball cap and a surgical mask. She also believes he was wearing latex gloves, she said.
Watson called her boss, who then phoned police.
No arrests made
In a release issued Thursday, police said they responded to the Chalmers neighbourhood business at about 9:25 p.m. after receiving reports a gun was discharged during a robbery.
Numerous units, including the police helicopter, were involved in the investigation.
No injuries were reported as a result of the theft, and police have not made any arrests.
“Detectives with the major crimes unit are actively working on the investigation, but we have no new information to share at this time,” Winnipeg Police Service Const. Jay Murray said in an email statement Friday.
Watson believes the weapon may have been an airsoft pistol, because it looked like a gun, but did not leave behind a bullet hole after the suspect fired.
A suspect identified by police will face charges of armed robbery, regardless of the type of gun that was used, as per the criminal code of Canada.
According to WPS data, there were 269 reported violent crimes in the Chalmers neighbourhood between December 2021 and November 2022. The data is the latest available.
The number marks a 27.9 per cent increase from the same period the previous year, and a five-year high.
‘You’ve got to keep going’
Watson began working at the business in September and said she had never experienced a robbery before.
She said she was distressed afterward but composed herself quickly and felt it was important to return to work.
“I want to say it’s OK, but it’s not. But, you’ve got to keep going, right? I can either sit down and be miserable, or I can get up and keep moving.”
She offered advice to others who find themselves at gunpoint.
“It sounds cliché, but just stay calm,” she said. “The best thing you can do is just respond and react appropriately.
“Don’t try and push for an argument or try to fight it. Prioritize yourself, because your safety matters the most.”