Two men have been charged in relation to a pair of armed robberies that sparked a police chase which ultimately ended up at the Halifax Shopping Centre — forcing shoppers and employees to hide as officers canvassed for the suspects.
Daniel Christian Anthony Johnson, 27, and Colton Alan Grantmyre, 26, are facing a number of robbery and firearm charges as police continue to search for a third suspect.
In a release issued Wednesday, Halifax Regional Police (HRP) said their investigation began at 11 a.m. Tuesday, when they were called to a robbery at Ash Jewellery on Quinpool Road.
“Two men entered the store and one was carrying what was believed to be a firearm,” the release read.
“The suspects exited the store empty-handed and fled to a vehicle that was parked nearby. The store employee and a customer who was in the store were not physically injured.”
A little over an hour later, Halifax District RCMP were called to Cash Trader Store on Sackville Drive in Sackville. Two men, matching the description of the earlier suspects, had gone into the pawn shop and demanded money.
During the robbery, a struggle ensued with the store owner.
“The firearm was discharged into the floor during a brief struggle. The store owner was not physically injured,” police noted. “The two suspects fled the store with a quantity of cash and jewelry.”
At 12:30 p.m. — 10 minutes after the pawn shop call — HRP officers “spotted the suspect vehicle” travelling on Highway 102 towards Bayers Road back in Halifax.
Officers tried to stop the vehicle, but it continued on to the Halifax Shopping Centre on Mumford Road.
“Three men abandoned the vehicle and fled inside the mall,” police said.
There was “brief foot pursuit” in the mall. At the time, people inside the mall were told to evacuate the building or hide at the back of stores. There was a heavy police presence at the shopping centre and officers could be seen carrying rifles.
Police were able to arrest two suspects and recover the stolen property.
Brandon MacKenzie, an employee at the mall who witnessed the arrests, told Global News he saw a large “bag of gold.”
“When they were coming out and being arrested and the police were searching them and everything and when they came out, the bag of gold was huge,” he said.
Even after the two arrests, police continued to search for the third suspect. At 3:30 p.m., the area around the mall was re-opened “after it was determined that the third man was not inside the mall.”
Shoppers and workers hide as mall evacuated
On Tuesday, shoppers and employees described a hectic scene to Global News.
People who worked at the mall said officers and security guards were yelling at people to evacuate from the building, and told those who couldn’t get out to stay in the back of stores.
“Security was just running around telling everyone to lock their doors and hide,” said Alex Armstrong, who works at the mall.
Another employee said what happened was frightening.