EDMONTON – Police have charged a man in connection with an assault and carjacking in a west Edmonton strip mall last week.
Ryan Neil Charette is facing several charges including two counts each of robbery with a firearm and using an imitation firearm.
“The firearm was an imitation, but to the public, it’s not,” explained Sgt. Patrick Ruzage. “It doesn’t look like an imitation; it looks real.”
Charette was spotted by Londonderry Mall security on Friday after the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) distributed surveillance photos of the 29-year-old.
“All these security people, we work in collaboration with them,” said Ruzage. “We had fanned out the picture of the suspect, and as a result, one of the … officers at the mall recognized the individual and brought him to our attention… north division patrol officers responded to the mall and the suspect – the accused now – was taken into custody without any incident.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, a woman and her seven-year-old daughter were walking in the parking lot of a west end strip mall when they were reportedly approached by a man. The man allegedly pointed what looked like a handgun and demanded the woman’s purse and car keys.
The woman and her daughter attempted to flee, but the man allegedly threw the woman to the ground and assaulted her.
“She was fortunate enough to steer her daughter to safety and intervened to try to fend off the suspect while her daughter went to safety. In the course of this, she was assaulted, punched, and pushed to the ground,” said EPS Acting Sergeant Neil Thompson.
A man intervened, but the suspect reportedly pointed his weapon at him as well.
The suspect then allegedly ran towards a vehicle and threatened the owner with the gun, before stealing the vehicle and leaving the scene.
An employee from a nearby business told Global News a young girl ran into the store crying on Tuesday evening and told a cashier that a man was beating her mother. A staff member called police.
The employee said the mother also came into the store before police arrived.
“The mother of the young girl suffered minor injuries,” said Thompson, “but as you can well imagine, was very traumatized by the event.”
“It’s certainly surprising that somebody would assault a woman that has her young child with her. That is quite rare. I haven’t seen that very often in my career and hopefully won’t see anymore of them.”
Despite two carjacking incidents in one week, police say they are not related.
“It’s something that’s very, very unusual, but they’re not related,” said Ruzage, who said the last time a similar incident took place in Edmonton was years ago.
“The last that I recall, based on our history here, is back in 2009. So again, you can tell that this is not something that’s ongoing. It’s a new trend.”