The Hostage Situation

When my aunt moved away out west, my cousin’s at the time girlfriend became my new coach. She kind of took me under her wing, exchanging lessons and riding time for my helping her out with younger students, and being her stablehand. She had rented a barn just outside of Brantford, and after a few months, things started to go down hill with the Landlord; who also still lived in the house on the property. Those who have any familiarity with “horse people” can vouch this is not a rare occurence.

My friend made the decision to move out and on. At fourteen, I was not privy to exactly what was said or how this all came to pass… But this is my first hand account of the fallout; certainly one for the record books…

At some point the day we were leaving there was a discussion about a hundred dollars that my friend owed the Landlord. Collectively, we had seven or eight horses there at the time, and we were making a couple of trips. We had sent the first load on their way, and we were loading up tack when the Landlord, henceforth referred to as “Nutjob,” came outside to discuss collection of said money. At no point in my recollection, was there an argument about this money, my friend gladly offered to drop it off the next day, or meet up with Nutjob. This seemed to escalate the situation. She then offered to write a cheque, which was immediately refused and seemed to enrage the little beast. She was somewhere just over five foot, probably 115 pounds with graying hair to her hips. Her eyes actually seemed to pop out from her leathery face when she announced “nobody leaves ’til I get my money.” She then proceeded to park her truck across the driveway, and walk into the house, only to return moments later to claim her look-out position on the back porch: holding a shotgun.

So there we were. My mom, my cousin, and our friend, held captive at an old farm by a nutjob with a long gun. Being the 90’s with cell phones being still somewhat rare our connection to the outside world was a rotary dial phone on the wall in the barn. My cousin blew the dust off, and dialed 911. He had gotten as far as telling them she was refusing to let us leave, and that she had a gun when she, having realized he was on the phone, stormed in a ripped it from the wall. Somewhere amid the yelling and threats my cousin decided she likely would not actually shoot him, and risked walking out the driveway hoping to flag down police.

Minutes went by. Then more minutes. Then hours. No return trailer. My cousin had disappeared. I guess we had resolved that something would break eventually… Darkness fell. I had dawned a hoodie when the sun went down. This inspired my comic relief side, and I started re-enacting scenes from Beavis and Butthead Do America. (We all react differently in a crisis situation!)

It was over three hours elapsed time when darkness was broken by flashing lights, and just like in the movies, a voice said “drop the weapon and come out with your hands where we can see them.” Things were a blur for a few minutes as more flashing lights, and uniforms began to appear. As things unfolded, we learned that from the moment the 911 call was placed and it was shared she was armed- actions were put in place; the entire concession was blocked off and the London Swat Team (over an hour away) had been called in to assist. My cousin had been picked up at the road, and had been hidden in the crops of the surrounding fields watching all of us, waiting to move in safely. I bet my Beavis and Butthead “Cornholio” routine was hilarious at two hundred yards through a scope!

Nutbar was arrested. We all gave statements. Mine started with an Officer telling me to repeat verbatim the things she said- and promising I would not get in trouble for swearing. Through this process we also learned she was a former stripper, and fairly well known to police. We moved on and up and luckily never went to Court. I’m not sure if she was actually criminally convicted, but I did run into her “former” husband some years later and learned that he never saw that gun again.