Quebec Walmart security guard in coma after alleged car attack, community raises over $110K
MONTREAL -- A Walmart security guard who was allegedly rammed by an irate motorist Saturday night in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, as he tried to enforce physical distancing measures outside the store remained in a medically induced coma Monday.
Witnesses reported that guard Philippe Jean hit the ground hard and suffered severe head injuries after a suspect allegedly sped into him outside the store's main entrance.
Jean grabbed on to the hood of the car after being struck and was dragged several metres, witnesses said. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Nacime Kouddar, a 25-year-old Montrealer, is accused of running into Jean and is facing three charges: assault with a vehicle, armed assault and hit and run.
The accused briefly appeared by videoconference after being arrested over the weekend and will return to court Monday in Sherbrooke.
A crowd-sourced fundraiser has garnered over $110,000 for Jean, a 35-year-old father of five.
Jean works for TITAN Securite and vice president Michel Juneau-Katsuya said he and his staff are shocked at what happened in Sherbrooke.
“It’s hard to believe that in such circumstances someone would lose it like the suspect has been accused of,” said Juneau-Katsuya. “You’re left shaking your head and saying, ‘It defeats any sense of logic that I have.’ It’s like seriously? He was not prevented to go in. The only thing that he was prevented was to go in as a pair.”
Juneau-Katsuya added that the Walmart Jean was working at is in a community with a lot of families that often shop in groups, which is why the one person per car rule was implemented.
Premier Francois Legault was asked about the rising tension at department and grocery stores during the pandemic during his Sunday news briefing and called the alleged assault “unacceptable.”
“Unfortunately, we have a few crazy people in our society,” said Legault. “I haven’t heard that it’s happening much in Quebec. Of course it’s unacceptable what happened in Sherbrooke.”
Deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbault tweeted her support for Jean and his family Monday.
“In these difficult times, the men and women who keep us safe are also at the front and vulnerable,” she said. “I appeal for calm to all Quebecers. Let us be united and follow the instructions.”
SECURITY IN A PANDEMIC
TITAN has over 200 guards across the province that have had to enforce the various measures issued by the public health authorities.
Juneau-Katsuya said the majority of Quebecers have been following the rules and not causing issues.
“They’re the front line,” he said. “Ninety-nine per cent of the time people will follow the instructions without any trouble.”
On occasion, someone will try to bully their way past security guards, Juneau-Katsuya said, but he added that citizens will often help and call out the aggressor.
“The general public will intervene as well. If somebody seems to be overstepping their privilege in trying to go into a store or something like this, usually, the entire line gets involved,” he said.
Juneau-Katsuya said the company requires each guard to produce a report after their shift and the company regularly reminds its guards to not overstep their authority.
If a situation arises that is too tense like the one on Saturday, guards are told to call the police.
“We know that we are in a period of tension for the entire society, so occasionally there is a verbal interaction with people that are not happy with the situation because they have to wait or something like this, but the guards have been trained,” he said. “They must understand that they have a job to do, that’s what they’re paid for. They need to assist our clients to keep law and order as much as possible, but, at the end of the day they are not the police.”
Juneau-Katsuya said the job requires calm and patience, and to act as educators as much as enforcers.
“They need to be very patient and be very professional as their training has taught them and bring the people as much as possible to understand that cooperation will make it easier for everybody,” he said.