EDMONTON – Two men died Friday morning after a pair of armed robberies in south Edmonton.
“It’s heinous acts,” said Police Chief Rod Knecht. “These were extreme acts of violence. I’ve talked to the investigators before I came in here and they say it was over-the-top violence.
Police said a man was shot at a convenience store at 32 Avenue and 82 Street in Mill Woods at around 3:30 a.m. When officers arrived, they found the injured clerk and began CPR while EMS was en route. He was taken to hospital where he died from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Edmonton police have identified the victim as 35-year-old Karanpal Singh Bhangu.
A man delivering newspapers said he stopped at the convenience store at 32 Avenue and 82 Street as part of his daily route but felt something wasn’t right when he didn’t see a clerk.
RAW VIDEO: Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht speaks about ‘barbaric and gratuitous’ acts of violence at Mac’s convenience stores
“You get to know the people that are there and all that,” Darcy Schulaz said. “You say hi to each other every morning so it was just strange when they weren’t there to say our normal greetings.” He contacted police a short time later.
“While that first incident was being investigated, another call came in at 3:42 a.m. from a different Mac’s store,” Knecht said.
Another man had been shot to death at a convenience store at 108 Street and 61 Avenue.
That man has been identified as Ricky Massin Cenabre, 41.
“A delivery man had entered the store and noticed a trail of blood into a back storage room,” Knecht said. “A patrol car was immediately dispatched. Members found a second crime scene and one individual, believed to be an employee, deceased.”
The police chief said video evidence from the first store showed three masked individuals were responsible for what was clearly a robbery. Knecht said police believe the victims were working alone when they were killed.
Cenabre was found injured and bleeding on the floor. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“From the video evidence we have seen, it is clear that neither of the victims offered any resistance to the robbers and posed no threat to them,” Knecht said.
“This was a barbaric and gratuitous act of violence upon two innocent persons resulting in a senseless loss of life.”
He said there would have been “minimal amounts of money” at the store locations.
Information about the suspects in the robberies was immediately fanned out to all patrol officers to be on the lookout.
Officers were directed to check on other Mac’s stores if possible.
A patrol officer in the Callingwood area spotted the suspects in a stolen Honda Element and followed them.
At around 5 a.m., a pursuit started on Whitemud Drive, before the vehicle crashed under the Terwillegar Drive overpass.
Police surrounded the vehicle and arrested three males.
All three were wearing masks and one is 13 years old.
The three suspects, including the 13-year-old, face first degree murder charges.
Laylin Delorme, 24, Colton Steinhauer, 27, and the youth who can’t be named were arrested Friday morning.
All three are in custody.
In addition to the murder charges, all three suspects face charges of robbery with a prohibited restricted firearm and being disguised with intent.
A police news release didn’t say when the suspects will appear in court to face the allegations.
WATCH: The police chief describes the murders of two Mac’s store employees as ‘unnecessary’ and ‘evil.’ Fletcher Kent reports.
In the past month, a few Mac’s convenience stores have been robbed, but, until Friday’s, they weren’t violent.
Knecht said the suspects may be linked to other Edmonton robberies.
Police don’t believe anyone else was involved in the two fatal shootings.
“It is very rare that we see this kind of senseless and random violence in our city. Still, two innocent people lost their lives today. Their family members here and overseas will have their holiday season devastated by this news. We should be outraged as a community.”
Osman Ali owns At-Taibah Halal Meat and Groceries in the same plaza as the Mill Woods Mac’s store.
“I knew him and he knew me, personally,” Ali said. “It’s just three doors down from my shop.”
“My wife… was crying… These are people that we know, they have a personal attachment in our lives.
He added there are things that could be done to improve general safety for people who work at night.
“I have seen them having – I’m not saying Mac’s specifically – I have seen them having after midnight, one employee. They need to double, have at least two employees.”
A woman who worked at a dry cleaner near the Mill Woods store said she was “feeling really sad inside” and “still shaking.”
Gursharan Buttar is the host of Radio Sursangam, a Sikh radio show in Edmonton. The Mill Woods store is owned by a member of the city’s Sikh community, Buttar said.
Global News has learned the clerk killed at the Mill Woods Mac’s had only been in Canada for three months.
Meanwhile, the owner of the convenience store at 108 Street and 61 Avenue said the man killed was a clerk who “had family back home.”
A man who lives next to the convenience store and visits it daily said he hasn’t heard of previous violent incidents at the store.
“To kill a guy for what? I know they have a safe and I don’t think they have $100 in the till. But it’s a crazy world we live in,” Norman Magnan said.
Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. issued a statement Friday afternoon:
As reported in the media, Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. (“Mac’s”) lost two of its customer service team members in separate – though apparently related – incidents of violence earlier today.
“This is a sad day in the history of Mac’s,” Western Canada Vice-President of Operations, Bonnie Birollo, said. “My heart aches for the many lives impacted by this tragedy and especially for the families of the two victims. We are doing all we can to support our people and to reach out to those in need,” added Birollo, who is in Edmonton to work with the local operations team.
The incidents are currently under investigation by the Edmonton Police Service. Mac’s is cooperating fully and actively with these investigations and can add no further comment at this time.
Ten years ago, Dilbag Singh Sandhu was shot to death at a Mac’s convenience store near 44 Street and 36 Avenue. In June 2005, he confronted two armed robbers trying to get away with stolen cigarettes and cash.
The 29-year-old died from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
No arrests have been made in the case. A $40,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for his death was renewed in 2014.
*With files from The Canadian Press