Armed robber who shot at police faces at least seven years of jail

Devan Wong robbed Premier Jewellery and Loans at gunpoint in December 2011, shot at police, and kidnapped a pizza delivery driver

A young man who robbed a Kelowna jewelry store at gunpoint, shot at police as he ran off, and then kidnapped a pizza delivery driver faces a minimum of seven years in prison for the crimes.

Devan Markcus Wong had been convicted of robbery twice before the armed December 2011 holdup of Premier Jewellery and Loans and, because of that, faces a legislated minimum of seven years behind bars, the court heard at his sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Crown counsel Dave Ruse contends the sentence for the young man should be at the upper end of eight to 10 years, while defence lawyer Grant Gray suggests a seven to eight year sentence for 20-year-old Wong.

“Seven years is indeed a very significant sentence for a person this young,” said Gray.

It was the afternoon of Dec. 6, 2011, when Wong, dressed in dark clothes and a ski mask, walked into the Bredin Road business and pointed a loaded 9 mm handgun at the two staff members before ordering one to load his duffel bag with jewelry.

Wong  went into the back of the store several times to get more containers, at one point kicking owner Martin Strasser in the back, said Ruse.

During the heist, a customer walked up to the door and Wong pointed the pistol at her. She fled and went to another business to call 911, Ruse said.

A short time later, Wong, carrying at least two containers of jewelry under his arms, ran out of the store. He quickly encountered police and dropped the jewels, which had a retail value of $250,000, and continued to run away.

One officer pursued him with his cruiser, while a dog handler, who was just coming off shift from the nearby Windsor Road police office, chased him on foot.

As Wong ran down a narrow alley, he fired two shots toward the officers before accosting a pizza delivery driver at gunpoint and forcing him to help him make his escape.

While in the delivery car, Wong arranged to meet up with an accomplice on Westside Road, who

threatened to kill the delivery driver if he got out of his vehicle. The accomplice has not been charged in the case.

Wong, a Surrey resident, left Kelowna that night on a one-way flight to Vancouver. He was charged with the crimes several months later after he turned himself in.

In March, on what was to be his first day of trial, Wong pleaded guilty to kidnapping with a restricted firearm, using a restricted firearm to commit robbery of two people at Premier Jewellery and Loan, covering his face with the intent to commit a crime, and discharging a firearm at two police officers in an attempt to evade arrest.

“I’d just like to apologize,” Wong told the court. “It was wrong. I hurt a lot of people in the process….Basically, I made a bad judgement call, a stupid decision, and I apologize for that.”

However, the Crown told the court the young man has a “disturbing” record for someone his age, with  a “multitude” of convictions for disobeying court orders, two previous robbery convictions and a history in prison for behaviour that is “unacceptable.”

Gray, meanwhile, described Wong as a courteous young man who suffered emotional abuse from his mother’s boyfriend following his father’s death when he was eight, and told the court that he believed that Wong could turn his life around if he takes advantage of programs in prison.

Wong has been in custody 16 months on the charges, and defence is seeking 1.5 times credit as he has spent much of his pre-sentence time locked in his cell 23 hours a day.

If given the enhanced credit, Wong could be credited for two years of his sentence being served already.

Justice John Savage is set to sentence Wong—and determine how much credit he will get for time already served—on June 26.

By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor

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