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Ceremony recognizes Nanaimo security guard

Warni Fernando holds his son Olen, 2, after the ceremony at Casino Nanaimo where he was honoured Wednesday for helping a Nanaimo RCMP member who was attacked in May.  - Chris Bush/The News Bulletin
Warni Fernando holds his son Olen, 2, after the ceremony at Casino Nanaimo where he was honoured Wednesday for helping a Nanaimo RCMP member who was attacked in May.
— image credit: Chris Bush/The News Bulletin

Warni Fernando, a security guard with Casino Nanaimo, was recognized Wednesday for possibly saving the life of an RCMP officer.

Fernando, 28, came to the aid of a female RCMP constable who was attacked near the casino in downtown Nanaimo by a man who had called police saying he was assaulted.

Fernando received Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s Chairman’s Award of Merit at the ceremony, which was attended by family, friends, representatives from the RCMP, Nanaimo city council and company executives who presented a  plaque recognizing the effort.

“I feel greatly, greatly honoured,” Fernando said. “I feel recognized.”

Fernando helped the officer subdue the assailant, who punched the Mountie repeatedly in the face, head and stomach as he tried to take her gun. She suffered multiple injuries in the attack, but has since returned to duty.

Fernando said he acted instinctively and did not fully realize what he had done until he had the man subdued and looked at the officer’s face.

“All I can remember, the moment I gained control of that individual, and I was able to turn around and look at the officer,” Fernando said. “That was the moment I realized what kind of a situation it was, because she was exhausted.”

He said the experience has changed the way he looks at life and the world.

Rod Baker, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation president, said it was an exceptional event, but it was a also presented a good opportunity to recognize the work security staff do each day.

“Obviously in the entertainment business there are always matters that need to be addressed,” Baker said. “This matter was particularly acute, as there was a gun involved and somebody who was clearly not in a rational frame of mind and was attempting to utilize that firearm, so I think that takes it up a great many notches from what we would see on any particular day running our business.”

The assailant, Jason Joseph Speare, 39, is scheduled to appear in court July 19.

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