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STEVE BARTLETT: Carjacking and bombings, thankfully not the norm

This file photo shows the Provincial Law Courts building in Charlottetown on Oct. 10, 1988 after a bomb went off.
This file photo shows the Provincial Law Courts building in Charlottetown on Oct. 10, 1988 after a bomb went off. - SaltWire Network

What would you have done in Michelle Murray’s situation?

She was waiting in a parked Pontiac van while her daughter and a friend smoked a cigarette. There were three children under three in the van with her; two of them her grandchildren.

The kids were watching “Paw Patrol,” and the one-year-old was strapped in his car seat.

It was a pretty uneventful scene until a stranger climbed aboard, put a screwdriver to her face and demanded that she get out.

“I thought, this can’t be real. This can’t be real …” Murray told journalists, including Rosie Mullaley of the St. John’s Telegram.

“He had a weapon. We didn’t know if he was going to turn that on either one of us at any time.

“But I was not leaving my grandbabies. There was nothing he could’ve done to me, I wasn’t leaving them. There was no way.”

According to Murray, the man began driving away as the three women rushed to free the kids.

“He didn’t stop … My daughter was literally walking trying to unhook the baby’s car seat.”

With the kids out of the vehicle, Murray photographed him with her phone and posted pictures to Facebook.

Jesse Lewis, 21, is facing 25 charges. He’s back in court Oct. 22.

Murray recounted her story outside provincial court in St. John’s Thursday, the day after it happened.

I suggest reading Rosie’s full coverage, which can be found HERE.

The predicament in which the courageous grandmother found herself is among the human experiences our journalists chronicled last week.

It caught my attention, making me wonder what I’d do if someone jacked my car with the kids inside.

I believe I’d do the same. How about you? Here’s hoping we never find out.

Hopefully, we also never experience what people in Prince Edward Island did 30 years ago.

According to an in-depth feature by Jim Day in Saturday’s Charlottetown Guardian, a man named Roger Bell began a series of bombings on Oct. 10, 1988.

His reign of terror started with a homemade pipe bomb in a flower bed in front of the Provincial Law Courts in Charlottetown.

The former high school chemistry teacher would set off two more — in a garbage can at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax on July 9, 1994, and at the Prince Edward Island legislature on April 20, 1995.

One person was injured in the latter explosion, fortunately the only casualty from the bombings.

Bell also planted a bomb at the Speedy Propane Bulk Plant in Charlottetown on June 26, 1996. Bigger than his first three and obviously set in a dangerous spot, it failed to detonate and police took care of it.

Bell’s calling card was “Loki 7,” a name from Norse mythology. His activities hit hardest on a psychological level, according to Day’s story.

“When I look at the Loki 7 bombings, it was what cost Prince Edward Island its innocence,’’ recalls Brad Macconnell, Charlottetown’s current deputy police chief and an officer who helped bring Bell to justice.

“No longer did these things happen in other places. They were happening here. It had a grasp on the community — fear that was tangible. You could sense it in people.’’

Through tips and surveillance, they eventually caught Bell. I encourage you to read Day’s feature. You can find it HERE.

As you do, be grateful to live in a part of the world where carjackings and bombings are out of the ordinary, and then take full advantage of the freedom and peace we all take for granted.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. Reach him via email at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.

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