Mounties didn’t get the man behind a robbery turned car-jacking Tuesday afternoon, but the owner of the shop where an intense police chase started couldn’t be happier with their efforts.
“I thought they did a fantastic job, I’ve (read) some negative commentary on local (websites), but I can tell you they did everything right,” said Martin Strasser, owner of Premier Jewelry and Loans on Bredin Road. “Tax dollars well spent, is all I can say.”
Strasser and one of his staff members were dealing with stock just before 4 p.m. Tuesday when the front doors of the business flew open and they were faced with the lone-gunman wearing a black hoodie and white cap.
“He had a mask over his face and he was moving quickly,” he recalled. “He was running down the length of the store yelling, ‘put your hands up, put your hands up’.”
It’s not the kind of thing that happens on a daily basis, said Strasser, so his first thought was, “is this a joke … is this real?”
“To be honest, part of your brain just doesn’t engage right away,” he said, noting it was as he kneeled, following the gunman’s direction that “terror set in.”
After he got Strasser under control, the robber turned his attention to the female employee, and held the gun just a foot away from her demanding she empty out the display cases.
As she did, a customer walked to the front window and the situation got more dicey.
“He ran up to the front holding out the gun, and she ducked and ran away — as she should have,” said Strasser.
The robber then gathered up all the jewelry, and made a dash for the door.
“The police response time was fantastic,” said Strasser, noting they have panic buttons and neighbouring business owners alerted cops to what was happening, too.
“There were police cruisers on either side so they caught the guy outside with merchandise.”
In their crosshairs, the man dropped the jewellery and ran down the alley next to the building.
“That’s where shots were exchange,” he said, noting he only heard one blast.
“Police were sprinting after him full out. I heard a crack was and they kept going .. they have more courage than I do.”
Strasser recovered the jewelry, ran into the store and dropped the security shutters as the chase continued to a warehouse between Kirschner and Spall Road.
For two hours, police hunkered down and sniffer dogs scoured the area. Helicopters whirled overhead offering a higher vantage point.
Turned out that the robber had actually car-jacked someone to flee the scene, demanding he be taken to a West Kelowna trailer park.
Once there, the driver had to wait as another car came to pick up the robber.
“Considerable Police resources have been put into play in order to locate and arrest this armed and dangerous individual,” said Const. Steve Holmes.
It’s effort, at the very least, that allowed Strasser to stay in business.
“If we’d lost all that jewellery, we would have closeds, and our staff would have been out of work,” he said. “I’m really grateful. I hope they get that guy.”
The suspect is described as a younger male, approx 6′ tall with a thin to average build. He was wearing a black hoodie with a large “A” and “X” emblazoned on the front in white. He had on dark jeans, white runners and a white baseball cap. If anyone has any information please call the Kelowna detachment at 250-762-3300 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visit www.crimestoppers.net to report.