She’s not comfortable being called a hero and doesn’t want her name made public, but the woman who’s being celebrated for de-masking a suspected shoplifter on Saturday is telling her story to CTV News.
The 73-year-old woman was shopping at the Campbell River, B.C. Walmart store when she noticed a man stuffing roast beef into his backpack.
He was exiting the store when she had a confrontation with the individual.
“I was frustrated that this guy is going to get away with $300-$400 worth of groceries. It’s going to put a hardship on everybody,” she told CTV News on Monday.
The woman notified Walmart staff about the man’s actions, but says she was told they weren’t allowed to do anything about it, especially in light of a security guard being stabbed at the store just one month before.
The woman and another shopper confronted the man as he was leaving the store in a video that has now gone viral.
“He grabbed for his bike and had the shopping cart all at the same time,” she said. “That’s when I (saw) the opportunity to grab the balaclava and rip it off his face.”
The senior and the other shopper both grabbed the cart and struggled to get it away from the man before he left the store.
“I was standing at the lottery booth and he came pushing his grocery cart filled, literally filled to the top with groceries, pushing towards me as he was exiting the door,” she said.
It was the woman’s history with criminals that prompted her into action.
In her 17 years as a former bank teller, she was robbed three times. Once was facing down the barrel of a shotgun in Vancouver, and then twice at banks in Calgary.
“They rattle you,” she said. “It’s not a good position to put yourself into and you’re told constantly within the banking system don’t worry about it, just given them the money, get them out of the bank, you’re protecting everybody.”
She says it was partly those experiences that led to a quick reaction at the Walmart door, when she pulled off the man’s mask in an effort to gather evidence.
“I know that the only way for the police to identify a suspect is to get a good face shot and I knew that removing the balaclava was the right thing to do,” said the 73-year-old.
Both the senior and Darrell Johansen, the man who shot the now-viral video, have been in contact with RCMP over the matter.
“I got four steps into the store and I spotted the guy and I knew right away, something just said, ‘This guy’s going to go,'” Johansen told CTV News on Saturday.
RCMP say they are investigating the incident.