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'Thought we were going to die': Couple attacked after work downtown making changes to stay safe
A Winnipeg couple is changing their work hours and vowing to take greater safety precautions downtown after an attack leaving work Monday night.
Devyn Cusson and Rebecca Tweed were walking to their vehicle towards Ellice Avenue on Carlton Street around 10 p.m. when two women and a man approach them asking for the time.
Cusson said when he passed the group, he pulled out his phone and replied ‘10:07’. Then they asked for a lighter.
When Tweed replied no, the couple said one of the women swung at her. Cusson then stepped in to protect his girlfriend.
“The other two jumped me and it just went crazy,” said Cusson.
“One of the females had a large rock or pool ball in a sock, a black sock tied off on the end. She was swinging it, and she got me about seven times, three or four in the exact same spot,” said Tweed. “There was a rock, a brick-sized rock was brought in the fight too.”
Cusson was able to restrain one of the women until they said another suspect, a man, came up to them and started swinging a hammer, shortly before police arrived.
They said a man with the rock-like brick managed to get away, along with a woman who took Cusson’s phone.
Cusson has been left with a black eye, a wrist injury and a possible fractured rib. Tweed had a big bumped on the top of her head.
Winnipeg police tell CTV News two suspects have not been located.
Downtown safety 'a huge problem': Victim
The couple said since they began working in the area in January, they’ve encountered problems with people outside.
“Screaming at random strangers walking by, big bottles of booze everywhere,” said Cusson.
On Friday, the couple said they returned to their workplace and the spot of the attack so they could help overcome what had happened and sort out their time off work with their employer.
Tweed said the pair has been offered to work earlier shifts, which she plans to do. She also said a phone has been set up in the HR area so employees can instantly be connected to the SafeWalks program with Downtown Biz.
The couple is vowing to use the service moving forward.
“I’m hoping people will call Safe Walk more often,” said Cusson.
“This is a huge problem regardless of time of day,” said Tweed. “If it wasn’t us it would have been someone else.”
The Downtown BIZ said SafeWalks are offered daily with its Downtown Watch Ambassadors.
"It's a free and convenient service that the public can access by calling 204-958-SAFE," said a spokeseperson in an email to CTV News.
Winnipeg police have charged Kara Lisa Harper, 27, with robbery and possessing a weapon, and Michael Okemow, 31, with assault with a weapon.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
Violence increasing, poverty must be addressed: Bear Clan
The Bear Clan's West End patrol walks downtown around Portage Place and the Marlborough Hotel on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Executive Director James Favel said the level of violence is increasing across the city, including downtown, and mostly concentrated in the inner-city.
"Scary, because it’s senseless violence for very little gain, and it's really traumatizing to the people that are impacted by it, and it's got to stop," said Favel on Saturday.
He said violence will decrease when poverty is addressed.
"If we didn't have people living on the street in the downtown core, we wouldn't have people getting jumped in the downtown core," said Favel
"If we are going to eliminate violence, homelessness, drug addition, physical abuse, it all stems from poverty."