Two armoured vehicle guards were sent to hospital after an explosion and armed robbery at a northeast Edmonton bank on Thursday morning.
The guards called police shortly after 2 a.m. to report the incident, which happened at a Scotiabank branch in the area of 160 Avenue and 82 Street.
The guards entered the lobby of the bank when an explosion occurred, police said in a media release late Thursday morning.
An armed, disguised suspect then stole cash from the guards before leaving the area on foot, police said. It’s not known how much money was taken.
The guards, a man and a woman employed by GardaWorld, were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Alberta Health Services said when EMS transferred the pair to hospital, the man was in serious but stable condition and the woman was in stable condition.
“When they walked inside the vestibule of the bank, some sort of improvised explosion went off, injuring them, rendering them in shock,” Edmonton police spokesperson Scott Pattison said.
“A suspect, we don’t know if it’s male or female… entered the branch and is alleged to have pointed a firearm at them and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.”
Watch: Edmonton police are investigating an armed robbery of armoured guards at a northeast bank. Police could be seen surrounding a Scotiabank branch in the area of 160 Avenue and 82 Street early Thursday morning.
Candice Reidlinger lives in the area and woke up to what she described as a “big bang” at around 2 a.m.
“I thought it was a car crash, to be honest, or a dumpster falling. That’s how loud it was. And then I saw the cops after that,” she said. “It’s scary.”
A person in an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) suit, or a blast suit, could be seen inspecting the area around the vehicle and the bank early Thursday morning.
In a statement to Global News, GardaWorld said support is being provided to its employees, families and colleagues at the branch.
In a statement to Global News, Scotiabank said the safety and security of its employees, customers and partners is a top priority.
“We are taking this matter very seriously. We are thankful that our partners’ employees are now safe,” spokesperson Doug Johnson said.
“Our primary focus is on the well-being of our employees at this time and we have been in contact with the branch to ensure they have all of the support they need. We are working with authorities during their investigation, and we encourage anyone with any information to contact the Edmonton police.”
Because the suspect was disguised, police said they do not have a description of the person.
The two workers are members of the Teamsters Local Union 362. The union said both were in hospital on Thursday.
“Two armoured car guards were ambushed in a gutless, cowardly robbery. We pray they make a swift recovery,” Teamsters Canada president François Laporte said in a news release.
“Armoured car crews are professionals who put their lives on the line every day, but they don’t expect to face IEDs when they go to work,” said Al Porter, secretary-treasurer of Local Union 362, the union representing most armoured car guards in Alberta.
“The two guards did everything right.”
Armoured guard attacks in Edmonton
Edmonton has seen at least two other incidents where are armoured guards were attacked on duty.
In July 2016, a 40-year-old man was shot and killed during an attempted robbery and attack on two guards in southeast Edmonton.
Randy James Munian was one of two suspects who police said pepper sprayed and ambushed two guards at a TD Canada Trust bank branch in the area of 25 Avenue and Hewes Way.
The guards in this incident were also employed by GardaWorld. They were treated on scene for pepper spray but were otherwise not hurt.
In June 2012, Travis Baumgartner shot four of his co-workers, three fatally, in a robbery on the University of Alberta campus. He was later sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years. The guards were employed by security company G4S.
Anyone with information about Thursday’s robbery is asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.