Police say they had no choice but to send a tactical team Thursday to rescue a hostage from a law office because her life was in imminent danger.
They said Friday that a woman entered the Lethbridge Legal Guidance office demanding to speak with a specific lawyer who wasn’t there and, after using the washroom, came out and pointed a gun at two employees.
Acting Staff Sgt. Bruce Hagel said the suspect forced a 54-year-old woman into an office and closed the door allowing the others to escape. He said the tactical team made contact with the armed woman by phone and spent an hour trying to get her to surrender.
“Due to an imminent threat to the life of the hostage, members of the tactical team made entry to the building,” Hagel said.
“The subject was holding a knife to herself, was taken into custody and officers then immediately began performing life saving measures to the victim who sustained serious injuries after being stabbed in the neck multiple times.”
The victim was given first aid by the officers and was later sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Police say she has had surgery and is in stable condition.
Hagel didn’t say what prompted police to believe the hostage was in danger, but said her injuries likely occurred in the short time it took police officers to enter.
“I would say in seconds. The tactical team made entry into the building and likely saved her life,” he said.
“They were established very close because … the No. 1 priority is that hostage’s life.”
At the scene, police recovered a knife and a black Airsoft handgun — a BB gun built to look like a real firearm.
Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh commended officers for their professionalism and courage.
“Our members train for days like these and I’m extremely proud of every officer and every employee behind the scenes,” he said.
“Our crisis negotiators did everything they could to communicate with the subject, to de-escalate the situation before the imminent threat of violence required the tactical team to make entry.”
Courtney Louise Shaw, of Lethbridge, faces several charges including attempted murder, aggravated assault, taking a hostage, use of an imitation firearm while committing an offence and four counts of unlawful confinement.
She has been remanded in custody and is scheduled to return to court July 22.
– Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press