Tyler Marshall was just going to Walmart for some groceries when he was shot during a series of violent events in the Kingsway Mall parking lot this week, losing a finger.
“It was just completely random,” the Edmonton man said Friday, speaking with Global News from the Royal Alexandra Hospital where he is recovering.
Marshall lives in central Edmonton, works at the Kingsway Moxies and goes to the shopping centre pretty much every day. Those familiar surroundings were also where his life changed forever.
On Tuesday, he debated ordering takeout but did the financially responsible thing and went to get groceries to make dinner instead. It was a mild evening, as had been the case for weeks, so he rode his bike.
He had just parked on the west side of the mall, near the Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart, when he was approached by a stranger.
“I was bending over locking the bike up when I saw someone behind me,” the Edmonton man said. “He was slurring and stumbling, not making clear sense so I thought he was just another like, you know, one of the people in the area — they were drunk or not sober.”
In those situations, Marshall said he just disengages. Tuesday night was no different and he said he tried to walk away from the stranger.
“As I was walking away from the bike, he had said something. I turned around to say like, ‘Sorry, I don’t understand you,'” Marshall said.
“That’s when he pulled the shotgun out and shot me.”
Marshall fell to the ground, peppered with shotgun pellets.
“He got me on the legs. I have holes in the back of my legs,” Marshall said, adding thankfully, the metal didn’t enter his joints. “I haven’t seen those injuries personally, but I’m told they’re pretty big.”
He suffered life-changing injuries to his right hand.
“He blew my right finger off and I lost the index finger. They managed to save a middle finger, but they had to put some bone graft in and reattach a nerve.”
He was one of several people threatened or attacked that night in the mall parking lot. It started when a woman was approached by a masked man who tried to rob her.
While trying to get away, a Good Samaritan — Christopher Beausoleil of Fort McMurray — saw the woman in distress and gestured for her to get in his truck. As the woman went to do that, the suspect turned his attention to Beausoleil in the driver’s seat.
That’s when the gunman pointed the sawed-off shotgun towards Beausoleil through the window and then began smashing the glass with the butt of the firearm.
Beausoleil drove off, which is when police said the suspect approached Marshall. After shooting him, police said the suspect then carjacked a white GMC truck after pointing the firearm at the lone woman who was driving it. She was able to exit the truck and run into the mall for safety.
According to EPS, the 28-year-old suspect drove the stolen truck away, hit a parked vehicle and ended up in an area near 118th Avenue and 101st Street, “where he entered a traffic circle at high speed and collided with a building.”
The suspect ran away but was arrested by police. EPS said they found multiple rounds of ammunition, 27 grams of methamphetamine and a sawed-off shotgun.
Living and working in the area, Marshall said he’s had his fair share of experiences dealing with people who are mentally unstable or intoxicated, but never had problems to this extent before.
Marshall said it didn’t seem like the man wanted his bike and has no idea why he was targeted.
The accused in the case was on a release order for an aggravated assault with a weapons prohibition. He has a previous lifetime firearms ban.
“We shouldn’t have people who have firearms violation so easily accessible and walking around,” he said.
Marshall has many questions.
“Why did he have 27 grams of meth? Why was he allowed to walk around? Why did he have a sawed-off shotgun?”
Judith Gale, who runs the volunteer harm reduction group Bear Claw Patrol and knows Marshall personally, said the mental health and addictions issues plaguing Edmonton’s inner city is reaching a breaking point and people are “walking time bombs left on the street.”
“We see a lot of mental health that is left unchecked on the streets and in my opinion, it’s just a recipe for disaster,” she said.
“Everybody is unsafe.”
Gale said putting money into policing and enforcement isn’t enough — the Alberta government needs to open more detox centres that easily accessible.
“We need to hear from our mental health minister. He needs to step up and say, you know what, we have a problem in this province and we need dollars to fix it.”
“I’m hoping this is gonna be like a wakeup call to the powers that be.”
Edmonton’s police chief has also previously said the city can’t arrest itself out of the issues that lead to these kinds of crimes.
Dakota Jackson Grey, 28, is facing more than 28 criminal charges stemming from the Kingsway crime spree, including two counts of robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault, dangerous driving, failing to remain at the scene of a collision, possession of stolen property and nine other firearms-related charges and two breaches of release order.
Marshall said he’ll be discharged from hospital soon, but has to return in a week for more skin grafts.
Even though he visits the mall everyday, Marshall is unsure he wants to return.
“I don’t even know if I want to go back there,” he said, explaining his mom was also stabbed at the bus terminal by the mall several years ago.
He wishes a lockdown had happened quicker.
In a statement to Global News earlier this week, a spokesperson for Kingsway said the mall was secured and locked down as a precaution Tuesday evening to ensure “shopper and employee safety, which is our priority.”
The statement went on to say mall officials were grateful that Edmonton police responded quickly and apprehended the suspect.