Police say a Fort Nelson man is in custody after he allegedly attacked a store employee with a hatchet during a robbery on Nov. 1.

Police were called to a business in the 1900-block of Oak Bay Avenue for a report of a robbery. Employees have confirmed the robbery took place at the Home Hardware.

Staff says the incident is a traumatizing one to witness.

“For the first few days and everything, that’s all people would talk about when they came through the cash is ‘oh, I heard something exciting happened here’ and it’s like that’s an understatement,” employee Jessi Cullis said.

A male suspect allegedly entered the business and began carrying various items around the store, including a hatchet. Police say when the suspect attempted to leave the store without paying for the items, an employee attempted to stop him.

Victims and witnesses reported that the man attacked the employee with a hatchet, leading to life-threatening injuries. Two customers stepped into assist and the suspect was disarmed.

Police say the man went back into the store and grabbed the Remembrance Day poppy box from the counter while confronting the injured store employee. During this exchange, another staff member intervened. The suspect allegedly assaulted the other staff member, causing non-life-threatening injuries.

“Barely even noticed [the suspect] in the store and all of a sudden he’s going ‘I’m going to effin stab you’. It was like a 180 switch,” Cullis said.

The suspect fled the store but was closely followed by the store manager. The suspect then confronted the store manager with a large rock, police said. The store manager moved a safe distance away but lost sight of the suspect before police arrived. The suspect was not found in the area but police recognized the suspect in surveillance video from the store.

Officers discovered the man was wanted on B.C.-wide warrants for sexual interference, sexual assault, assaulting a police officer, assault, uttering threats, mischief, obstructing a police officer and breaching a recognizance.

VicPD Major Crime detectives determined the suspect was in Saanich. He was taken into custody without incident by the Saanich police K9 Department on Nov. 5.

Gary Reno is facing multiple charges, including weapons possession, robbery and assault causing bodily harm, as well as charges related to his outstanding warrants.

CHEK News