Neighbours admire cool hostage

August 27, 2004 

TORONTO -- Nicole Regis won the sympathy and respect of Ajax neighbours she barely knows by keeping her cool and talking to a gunman who grabbed her at random outside Union Station. "She was a class act," said Kim MacLean, who lives across from the new home Regis and her family moved into last month near Old Pickering Village.

The daughter of Mr. Justice Gregory Regis, of the Ontario court in Oshawa, managed to smile Wednesday as Toronto police escorted her from the body of chef Sugston Anthony Brookes, 45.

Fearing for the life of Regis and officers who encircled Brookes as they tried to get him to drop his sawed-off rifle, an ETF officer shot the father of two in the head after 46 minutes.

Judge Regis and another daughter told reporters who came to their door that Nicole was "doing well" and resting.

"Nothing's changed since yesterday," her sister said, declining to give her name. "The family is asking for some more privacy." They offered "deep appreciation, and sincere thanks, to all who have shared their concerns about this very unfortunate situation."

Neighbour Marvin Austin, a downtown Toronto paramedic who was off-duty during the standoff, has been with the ETF during "high-risk takedowns" and understands their risks and stress.

"I feel terribly bad for everyone involved," Austin, 37, said yesterday. "I don't think anybody should go through that.

"I also feel for the police officer who had to pull the trigger."

Austin said about 20 cars filled with relatives and friends visited her home after she arrived from St. Michael's hospital in Toronto.

"I don't think I could have done what she did, especially so young," neighbour John Iannarelli said. "It's ironic he (Brookes) lived so close," said Iannarelli, 37. The two houses are 4.2 km apart.

One of Brookes' neighbours, Ursula Blackman, said: "He was a hard-working man with three jobs ... what he did was a cry for help."