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Prompt action by Kelowna Art Gallery staff keeps people safe
There’s a small masking tape marker on the Kelowna Art Gallery window where a stray bullet shattering the calm of Family Sunday.
The regularly scheduled afternoon artwork session, which draws children and their parents to the building each week, was well underway when gunfire at the entrance to The Delta Grand Hotel across the street broke out around 3 p.m., leaving gallery staff on the hot seat to protect the program participants.
“We have regular emergency practices once a month where staff can raise their ‘what ifs,’” said Kelowna Art Gallery executive director Nataley Nagy, “although we never thought of bullets.”
What they did manage to surmise must have been enough, however, for as masked gunmen shot up the area across the street from the gallery’s all-glass storefront, the staff inside quickly locked up, moved everyone deeper into the gallery to a safe location and kept everyone on task—drawing and creating more beautiful art projects.
For the executive director, the response could not have been better.
“My staff are fantastic,” she said with obvious pride in her voice.
Once all was calm, one staff member phoned Nagy, who lives in the neighbourhood, and she and her husband ran to the gallery, hoping they could get inside before police cordoned off the area.
Finding everything accessible, Nagy went in to check on everyone, while her husband headed to Gio Bean Espresso to get a coffee and some scuttlebutt from customers to suss out what had happened.
Nagy contacted her board of directors, in case the bullet-hole made the news, to let them know everyone was alright, then helped her staff carry on with the day.
After a time the gallery even re-opened, and though art gallery staff were shaken, they carried on with their activities, offering nervous tourists and those milling about the neighbourhood a calm place to recuperate from a frightening experience.
“A lot of visitors complimented me on my staff,” said Nagy. “They were able to remain calm and keep everyone else calm.”
Police arrived at the art gallery to interview and deal with the bullet hole around 8 p.m.
The broken window remained in place Monday as the investigation unfolded and Kelowna Art Gallery staff were back on the job, though the gallery itself was closed, as per the usual Monday schedule.