Armed rob­bery shocker in L’Anse au Loup

The Labradorian - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS

L’Anse au Loup is a quiet ru­ral com­mu­nity, one with very lit­tle crime and a strong sense of safety.

But on Tues­day, Jan. 17, the com­mu­nity was shocked by an armed rob­bery at the local gro­cery store.

Store owner Sonya Earle was one of three peo­ple work­ing when the rob­bery oc­curred just 15 min­utes be­fore clos­ing. She was in her of­fice when the com­mo­tion be­gan.

“A man came in,” Earle said in a phone in­ter­view from L’Anse au Loup last Thurs­day. “There were no other cus­tomers in the store at the time, and just two fe­male staff mem­bers. And he came in and de­manded cash from the first lady, and she bawled out to the sec­ond em­ployee to come back. And that’s when he grabbed my sec­ond em­ployee.”

Earle said the se­cu­rity cam­eras picked up the en­tire rob­bery, which showed the man forc­ing the woman to her knees and plac­ing the blade of a knife against the back of her neck.

While load­ing bags with money from the reg­is­ters, a cus- tomer ar­rived in the store, but the sus­pect didn’t no­tice.

“My em­ployee ac­tu­ally looked at the cus­tomer, and I guess we could call her a hero in a sense,” said Earle. “She looked at her and she said, ‘don’t come in,’ she kind of mouthed it and used her hands to point and say go back out and go for help.”

“There were no other cus­tomers in the store at the time, and just two fe­male staff mem­bers. And he came in and de­manded cash from the first lady, and she bawled out to the sec­ond em­ployee to come back. And that’s when he grabbed my sec­ond em­ployee.” Store owner Sonya Earle

The cus­tomer took off, back through the door with­out be­ing no­ticed by the man with the knife, she con­tin­ued.

When he left the store, he said a bomb would be set off in the park­ing lot if any­one tried to call the po­lice as soon as he left. He took the money and the phone re­ceiver and left. The women did not rec­og­nize the man.

Af­ter lock­ing the door and head­ing to Earle’s of­fice, they re­ceived a phone call. The cus­tomer had con­tacted the Forteau de­tach­ment of the RCMP, and her boyfriend was call­ing to check on every­one at the store.

“We were feel­ing a bit ner­vous,” she said about wait­ing for the po­lice to ar­rive.

All through­out, Earle re­mained calm. She even be­gan brain­storm­ing dif­fer­ent se­cur- ity mea­sures that she was go­ing to im­ple­ment in the near fu­ture, in­clud­ing a panic but­ton.

The next few hours were hec­tic, with po­lice com­ing in and tak­ing ev­i­dence, re­view­ing the se­cu­rity footage and try­ing to iden­tify the man who en­tered the store.

In a place like L’Anse au Loup, where the pop­u­la­tion is less than 600, peo­ple know each other well. The word spread like wild­fire and every­one wanted to help out. Earle knew just what to do. “In an area like this, busi­nesses work to­gether,” she ex­plained.

She called all the ho­tels in the area and told them what hap­pened, and if any­one tried to check in with cash to con­tact her or the RCMP.

“They were so help­ful, each of them,” she said. “They promised they would call back if any­one showed up.”

It wasn’t long be­fore she re­ceived a call. A local ho­tel called while Earle was giv­ing her state­ment to the RCMP. Soon the RCMP ar­rived at a local cof­fee shop and ar­rested a 35-year-old male and a 21-year-old fe­male.

Al­though not sur­pris­ing to Earle, the com­mu­nity was ea­ger to help the RCMP.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Earle’s Gro­cery store where a rob­bery took place in L’Anse au Loup last week.

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