Victim of Liquor Mart assault calls for action to deal with root causes of theft
WINNIPEG -- An employee struck in the head and knocked unconscious during an armed robbery at a Manitoba Liquor Mart last week is calling for the community to come together to address greater societal issues she feels are contributing to the behaviour in liquor stores and other retail spaces.
Randi Chase, 26, a competitive power lifter currently going to school to become a psychiatric nurse, was sent to hospital in critical condition on the afternoon of Nov. 20 following a violent rampage at the Liquor Mart at Tyndall Market Mall.
On Sunday evening she shared her story in a video posted to Facebook. On Wednesday she spoke with reporters.
“It’s traumatic. I feel violated, I’m scared and it’s just kind of taken my whole life and derailed it,” said Chase during a media conference. “I don’t feel I deserve that.”
Chase, who’s been working for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries for the past eight months, said she suffered a concussion, ruptured eardrum, bruising and swelling. She’s still experiencing concussion symptoms and emotional trauma from the attack.
“I’m afraid I will never be the same because of what happened Wednesday and I know I am not alone,” she said.
Chase doesn’t want to blame anyone or shine a negative light, but she feels more needs to be done to address the root causes of the daily thefts and sometimes violent robberies which have been an issue at Liquor Marts for the past 18 months.
“The main point here is that we have a crisis on our hands and it is everyone’s responsibility to take action,” said Chase. “This is a much, much larger issue than what is portrayed by the media. This behaviour is a symptom of a greater societal issue but as a society we need to come together and create effective and proactive change — now.”
Chase said she supports the call by her union, the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, for a summit involving police, addictions and social services, public and private retailers, unions and the provincial government.
NEW CONTROLLED ENTRANCE UP AND RUNNING AT LIQUOR MART WHERE CHASE WAS ATTACKED
Prior to the attack on Chase and two of her coworkers, MBLL was working on installing a new controlled entrance at the Tyndall Market Liquor Mart where the incident occurred. The Crown corporation has said in the coming months all Winnipeg Liquor Marts will be retrofitted with the new secure entrances.
The Tyndall Market store had been temporarily closed due to the attack, but on Wednesday it reopened with the new controlled entrance system.
CTV News went to the Liquor Mart to check out the new entrance. Here is how it works: The doors at the Tyndall Market Liquor Mart will be locked. When customers arrive they are greeted by two security guards behind an enclosed kiosk.
The customer slides a piece of valid photo ID under a glass window. It’s not clear what information guards can access when they scan people’s identification. The security guards then scan it before opening the doors to the store. The entrance is still wheelchair accessible.
At the Tyndall Market location, two uniformed police officers could also be seen inside the store on Wednesday.
As well, minors will no longer be allowed in the stores – even if they are with an adult.
MBLL said it won’t be providing any further operational details about the controlled entrance program as it “could compromise further security efforts.”
But these new measures don’t have everyone convinced. People on social media fear the new measures will increase the danger of being robbed or assaulted in the parking lot.
In a statement, MBLL said it will be working with the Winnipeg Police Service to expand their presence at Liquor Marts.
INTERNAL MEMO SENT TO STAFF SHARED WITH MEDIA
MBLL isn’t commenting on camera about the message shared by Chase or the new secure entrances but it did provide media outlets with an internal memo sent on Nov. 26 to staff.
In the memo, MBLL’s executive Vice President of liquor operations Robert Holmberg said in part, “there is currently no greater issue facing Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries than Liquor Mart thefts.
“We ask that you continue to use your training and non-violent crisis intervention techniques to protect everyone in the store. While no employee should ever intervene in a theft or unnecessarily put themselves in harm’s way by provoking or engaging with a thief, employees do have the right to protect themselves should the situation warrant it.”
Chase said last week’s violent incident left her feeling like she wasn’t equipped to protect herself or her coworkers.
“I quickly realized I did not have the tools to effectively handle and safely deescalate a situation similar to last Wednesday,” said Chase. “These are ongoing incidents and we need appropriately address them now.”
–with files from CTV’s Danton Unger