Two have-a-go heroes chased down and caught a pair of masked robbers who tried to hold up Blackbeard’s liquor store in Grand Harbour in an attempted robbery Monday afternoon.
Police arrested the suspects, ages 17 and 18, who were armed with a shotgun and pepper spray. They remained in custody Tuesday.
Edward Azan, one of the two fishermen who chased the robbers, said he and his friend, Charles Ebanks, had seen the pair enter the store with a shotgun and tackled them when they came out.
“We got into a chase and we apprehended them,” said Mr. Azan, who added that the chase was a long one that felt like it lasted about a half-hour, although police said they made the arrests seven minutes after they were called.
“It was all on foot, no vehicles,” said Mr. Azan.
Mr. Ebanks said he had seen the men with a shotgun go toward Blackbeard’s and he and Mr. Azan grabbed from their trucks a knife and machete that they use for fishing.
“They came out of the liquor store and one guy ran up and put the gun in my face and told me, ‘Give me your money and jewellery.’ I laughed and said ‘Not today, Bo-Bo. You’re not going to have my money and jewellery.”
He said the robber had not seen that Mr. Ebanks was carrying a knife and so was distracted when he dropped the knife on the ground. At that point, the fisherman grabbed the shotgun from the masked robber and disarmed him.
“There was a struggle and I took the gun from him. Then they ran off towards the bank and we followed them,” he said.
Mr. Ebanks and Mr. Azan chased the robbers through the car park at Grand Harbour and onto Selkirk Drive before the robbers doubled back into some brush behind the Royal Bank of Canada. When they emerged, Mr. Azan and Mr. Ebanks again stopped them.
Although Mr. Ebanks was now carrying the robber’s gun, one of the robbers threatened to use pepper spray on him.
“One of them asked me to let him go. I told him he wasn’t going anywhere after he’d tried to rob me at gunpoint. He took the safety off the pepper spray and I told him if he sprayed me, he’d piss me off and I would beat him with this gun.
“He must have thought I was joking because he sprayed me in my face and eyes and shirt, so I beat him with the gun,” he said.
He said the second man ran into the bushes where he was confronted by Mr. Azan, who was carrying his machete. “Edward walked him out of the bushes and then the police came and handcuffed and arrested them,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Both men are being lauded by the public as heroes, but Mr. Ebanks said heroism was the last thing on his mind when he stared down the barrel of the shotgun. “It was a split- second decision. I thought ‘Will I be alive tomorrow to see my son and my friends?’”
It turned out the gun was not loaded, but Mr. Ebanks said he had no way of knowing that at the time. “You assume the worst. If a gun’s pointed at you, you assume it’s loaded,” he said.
According to liquor store staff, the female cashier on duty at the front of the store spotted the two men, whose faces were covered by shirts, as they entered Blackbeard’s around 3.13pm. She refused to open the till and locked herself in the bathroom. The two men then left the store empty-handed.
No shots were fired and no-one was injured in the incident, police said.
Witnesses have suggested that a third person may have been involved, police said. They are looking for a silver-grey Pontiac four door sedan, which was parked in the vicinity of Selkirk Drive. The driver, a male, drove off as the suspects left the liquor store and were being chased.
Anyone who was in the area and saw the incident take place, or the suspects running from the scene, should contact George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).