WINNIPEG – Family members of a Canadian who was shot multiple times while defending a group of Manitoba school students in the Dominican Republic are revealing details of what happened during the frightening robbery.
Les Lehmann, recovers in hospital in the Dominican Republic in a recent handout photo.
The family says that Les Lehmann, who lives in the Dominican Republic and manages an apartment complex, suffered nine bullet wounds and was stomped by the armed intruders during the incident late last month.
The details have been posted on a website (www.donatetoles.com), which the family is using to raise money to cover Lehmann’s hospital expenses.
The students were staying in the apartment complex while doing humanitarian work for an orphanage and school, and none of them were hurt.
The website says the thieves stomped on Lehmann and shot at him when he confronted them on the property, and then left him as they proceeded to break into the room where the students were staying.
It says Lehmann found a baseball bat and pursued them, and then hit them several times with the bat before the robbers opened fire.
“Les is surprised to hear people calling him a hero — it was his natural reaction — a reflex to the threat that the humanitarian group might have been harmed,” the family says on the website.
According to the Franco-Manitoban School Division, which brought the school group home immediately after the incident, the group had just arrived in the Dominican Republic the day of the attack.
Lehmann had spent January 30th welcoming the group and helping them settle in, the website says. But at 1 a.m., it says he was awakened by a disturbance and got up to patrol the property.
He was startled by two thieves with guns drawn. He grabbed a machete while the thieves shot at him numerous times.
They backed him into the bedroom and then began stomping on his head and torso in the hope that he would no longer interfere, and then eventually left him alone.
The family says that Lehmann threw hammer at them as they left. He then saw them breaking into the apartment, and he returned to his residence to find something else he could use for a weapon. He grabbed a baseball bat.
Surveillance video obtained by media in the Dominican Republic and posted on the website shows what happened next.
Lehmann can be seen in the video surprising one of the armed men emerging from a doorway, knocking the man to the ground and forcing him to drop his pistol onto the tile floor. One of the armed men can be seen emerging from a doorway and Lehmann surprises him from behind. Lehmann hits him repeatedly with the bat, knocking him to the ground and causing him to drop his gun.
But before Lehmann has a chance to grab the weapon from the dazed man, another gunman appears in the doorway and bright flashes can be seen shooting from the barrel of his gun. Lehmann grabs the dropped weapon while the second man continues firing, but it appears Lehmann has been hit and he falls. He drops the gun behind him and his blood can be seen pooling onto the tile.
The second gunman returns to retrieve the dropped gun, then grabs the collar of his companion who is still lying on the ground and drags him away.
For the remaining few minutes of the video, Lehmann rises to his hands and knees and takes off his shirt to use as a tourniquet for his arm. He tries to stand by using the baseball bat like a cane but he’s too weak and falls. After rolling onto his back, a dog, tail wagging, approaches and licks his hand.
“Les’ main concern was that the humanitarian group remain safe. Even after being shot several times and immobilized Les made every attempt to check on the people in the unit and ultimately he dragged himself to the door to see that they were all out of harms way,” the website says.
The website says Lehmann spent four hours in emergency surgery. On top of the bullet wounds and blood loss, his injuries included a broken knee and a broken arm. He is recovering but still requires more surgery and rehabilitation.
The family plans to bring him to a hospital in Canada.
The robbers have not been caught, and the family says that they hope the video may lead to their arrests.