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Victoria Police officers fired less-lethal rounds at a robbery suspect on Saturday morning, after he allegedly stole cash from a nearby pharmacy.
VicPD was called to the area after a pharmacy on the 3000-block of Nanaimo Street reported that a man had come in and demanded cash after telling staff that he had a gun. He then left with the money.
Police found the man soon after just outside of a car dealership on Douglas Street near Summit Avenue. He was cornered by four officers, all with their firearms raised.
VicPD says the man was not complying with the officer’s orders and was evading arrest when one of the officers fired an ARWEN less-lethal weapon at the suspect, who was then taken into custody without further incident. Once apprehended, officers did not find a weapon on the man.
In the video taken of the incident, it looks as though three rounds were fired and more than eight officers had arrived on scene by the time the man had been apprehended.
While most of the responses on social media commend the police’s actions, the incident is raising questions online if it needed this heavy of a police presence to take him into custody.
Under the VicPD’s release on Twitter, one person wrote, “No wonder they can’t afford all those salaries. How many do they need to help one person?”
In a statement to CHEK News, Const. Cam MacIntyre, media relations officer for the police department, said the safety of the community is their first priority, and this situation appeared to be very dangerous.
He also said at the time of the incident, officers believed “that this man was armed with a firearm, had just committed a serious, violent crime, and was advancing toward officers while reaching toward his waistband.”
The police chief added his two cents on Twitter, commending the officers’ actions.
Great work by @vicpdcanada to locate the robbery suspect & deploy a less lethal option when he was non-compliant and advanced on officers reaching for a potential firearm. Officers have a split second to assess the threat & make a decision. https://t.co/ztJqxdbPl5
— Del Manak (@ChiefManak) February 20, 2021
“Great work by [VicPD] to locate the robbery suspect and deploy a less-lethal option when he was non-compliant and advanced on officers reaching for a potential firearm,” wrote chief Del Manak.
“Officers have a split second to assess the threat and make a decision.”
Jessica Urkosky, a passerby who videotaped the incident, says she believes the police response was justified because of the suspect’s actions.
“While the police response was extremely aggressive, the man did keep his hands out of sight and refused to show them. Knowing now that he had threatened to have a firearm, I think the response was appropriate,” said Urkosky.
The man was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was medically cleared to leave that same day. He is now being held at VicPD cells, where he awaits his court date.
Police are recommending charges of robbery. The investigation is ongoing.