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Video: Knives, bear spray, a hostage, charges laid in scary downtown Tims incident

"I was so scared my entire body was shaking" says customer
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The incident that closed the downtown Tim Hortons on May 25 was a lot more harrowing than early reporting indicated.

It may have begun with a man wielding a large knife and threatening customers, but it escalated to fighting, bear spray and, eventually, a hostage situation.

Two people have been charged in relation to this incident, both the man wielding the knife, and a woman who deployed the bear spray.

Sudbury.com has managed to obtain video taken by a patron in the Tim Hortons that morning.

Customer Jenna Rae was in line for her morning coffee and caught most — but not all — of the incident on video and posted it to her Facebook page. In her post, Jenna Rae wrote, "an aggressive man came into timmies (sic) wielding a knife rambling about coffee and his view of the world, among other things."

Rae had actually spotted the man with the knife before she entered Tim Hortons, and had tried to warn the staff.

"I saw the guy with the knife, a woman, and what I assumed was his friend. They were in the LCBO parking lot. The man had his shirt off and was yelling about something that I couldn’t make out," said Rae in an email to Sudbury.com.

"I ran into Tim Horton's to let the staff know that this man was approaching and seemed very aggressive and dangerous. At that point, he walked in yelling and brandishing his knife. It appeared that his yelling was directed at a woman he was with but in general he appeared out of control and not stable."

Jenna acted quickly when the man entered the store brandishing a knife, pulling out her phone to document what was happening before her eyes.

"I wasn’t aware of any store cameras and wanted to make sure there was factual documentation of the incident. I was concerned that he might hurt someone and wanted to make sure there was proof of the attack and his aggressive behavior," said Rae.

"I was however also aware of the privacy of others and didn’t want to get anyone’s faces on camera who hadn’t consented to being filmed. In addition to those reasons, I also wanted to be discrete about filming, given how easily this man was agitated."

Rae says that the man was aggressively demanding that the customers in the store buy him coffee, and that multiple attempts were made by a number of customers to calm the man down and de-escalate the situation.

One of the people trying to calm him down was the woman who eventually deployed the pepper spray, according to Rae.

"She offered to buy him coffee multiple times, under the condition that he put down the knife and leave after getting his coffee, at that point he refused and appeared to be escalating," said Rae.

At one point, Rae said, "A woman was on her knees being held by the man with the knife. She appeared terrified and pleaded with him to let her go. Thankfully several people were able to free his grip on her and I was able to get a hold of her and bring her to the Sudbury transit security guard. I wanted to make sure that she was safe and out of harm's way."

That was the end of Rae's involvement, but it wasn't the end of the story. Police hadn't even arrived by this point. 

Greater Sudbury Police spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn told Sudbury.com after the bear spray was used, the man jumped the counter, grabbed a large knife and began threatening the Tim Hortons employees.

When police arrived, Dunn said the man grabbed one of the employees to use as a human shield and held a knife to the man's throat. 

He ignored the officers' commands to drop the knife and release the hostage. Police didn't say how, but the Tim Hortons employee somehow managed to break free, and officers were able to move in on the man and take him into custody.

As frightening as the incident was, no one was seriously injured, and by the footage captured by Rae, it appeared as though most of the customers were able to keep calm in the midst of a potentially horrific situation.

"I think that everyone reacts differently in traumatic situations. There were many people who appeared to be trying to remain calm, as to not agitate him further. There were some that were more aggressively attempting to deal with him and get him out," said Rae.

"Personally I was so scared my entire body was shaking."

As a result of the incident, a 31-year-old man was charged with hostage taking, assault with a weapon, weapon dangerous, robbery, resisting arrest, and numerous breaches. A 34-year-old woman was charged with administering a noxious substance (bear spray), possession of a weapon, and numerous other breaches.




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Matt Durnan

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