Oak Bay Village was the scene of a rare mid-day robbery attempt Friday afternoon, but the would-be thief never had a chance thanks to the actions of a shop owner and an alert witness.
Just before 2:30 p.m. Friday a man wearing a white hard hat, dust mask and gloves entered Cambridge Antiques on Oak Bay Avenue and produced what turned out to be a paintball gun. He carried a black bag, which he demanded the owner, Peter Everett, fill with merchandise. When Everett refused to do so the suspect ran down an aisle and jumped into the front display area, where he began grabbing jewelry and other items.
Everett had followed him to the front of the store, and the two struggled. Eventually the suspect was knocked to the ground. Meanwhile, Crystal Stupple, who was in the store with her mother, saw the events unfolding and helped keep the man on the ground, pinning him there while they waited for police to arrive.
According to Stupple, the suspect threatened her with a knife, which made her even more determined to keep him down.
“He was saying he couldn’t breathe, so I loosened my grip a bit, but I didn’t let him up because we didn’t want to get stabbed,” she said.
Police arrived shortly and the man was taken into custody. The actions of both Everett and Stupple are commendable, said Deputy Chief Kent Thom, but he cautioned that police don’t recommend that others do the same if faced with similar circumstances.
“We stress in a situation like that it could have had a much more unfortunate or even disastrous ending, so we encourage people to not challenge suspects,” Thom said.
Nevertheless, Thom called Everett and Stupple’s response “extremely courageous.”
Police say the accused, a 40-year-old Victoria man, has a criminal record which includes previous robbery convictions. They’ve recommended charges which include robbery, possession of a concealed weapon, imitation of firearms, and uttering threats, among others. The suspect was remanded in custody at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Facility and scheduled for a video conference on the charges Monday morning.