Alberta woman who survived hostage-taking reunites with first responders

It was a rare and special day for members of the Lethbridge Police Service, Lethbridge Fire & EMS, and Alberta Health Services on Friday.

They met with Kathryn Linder, who survived being stabbed in the neck multiple times on July 14 during a hostage-taking situation in downtown Lethbridge.

Many of those in attendance had a role in saving her life.

“It’s absolutely overwhelming to see the number of people who were involved, and none of it was small,” said Linder.

“Now I’ve got faces. At the time, (it was) just hands and voices, going: ‘Are you OK? Stay with us.’”

According to police, Linder was one of four employees of Lethbridge Legal Guidance in the building that summer afternoon when a client entered, asking to speak with a specific lawyer.

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The suspect was told the person she was looking for was not there, and subsequently asked to use the bathroom. After about 10 minutes, the suspect emerged and allegedly threatened to kill the employees.

Police said she was armed with an airsoft handgun and a knife. Three employees were able to escape, but Linder remained inside.

Linder told media Friday she began thinking about “random things” during those moments.

“The holiday I had planned, my daughter, wondering if my coworkers and friends were safe,” she recalled.

According to authorities, one employee had called 911 and crisis negotiators tried speaking with the suspect on the phone for about an hour, but entered the building once an they determined there was imminent threat to the victim’s life.

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Courtney Shaw now faces several charges related to the incident, including attempted murder.

“(These incidents) are still fortunately very rare,” said LPS Staff Sgt. Leon Borbandy. “I’ve been a police officer for 26 years and this is the first such incident I’ve been involved in.”

Tyler Skauge and his partner were two paramedics who helped treat Linder.

“LPS had already done a great job, they’d already taken measures to control Kathryn’s bleeding and her stab wounds,” Skauge said. “My partner and I really just packaged Kathryn as quick as we could and (we transferred her) to the hospital.”

There, Kathryn was treated by hospital staff and had surgery.

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“There’s a team of surgeons and anesthesiologists and respiratory therapists who were involved in responding, so again it was a team effort,” said AHS senior operating office Colin Zieber.

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“This is obviously a super unique and powerful situation,” Skauge added of Friday’s reunion. “It’s not everyday we get to meet our patients, especially with an outcome like this.”

It’s an opportunity Linder is grateful for.

“Thank you, every one of you. You did your jobs. You did your jobs well. I thank you. On behalf of all of my family, I thank you.”

And while she already was a “live-in-the-moment kind of person,” Linder said the ordeal has reaffirmed her positive outlook on life.

“Live your life, buy the shoes, smell the flowers, eat the cake,” she said.

“Life is short, enjoy it. Appreciate the people who are with you.”

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