Bank employees tackle alleged robber

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North Vancouver RCMP are praising the actions of two bank employees after they captured an alleged robber.

Although police typically advise against confronting suspected criminals, and instead recommend people observe and report, North Van RCMP spokesperson Peter DeVries said he recognizes the bravery shown by the two Bank of Montreal employees.

"I challenge anyone to find another police officer that didn't think what [the employees] did was pretty awesome," said DeVries.

On Tuesday around 1:10 p.m. the suspect entered the bank, located on the corner of Lonsdale Ave. and Esplanade. Police aren't releasing any details on how the robbery took place, but the man reportedly fled a short time after.

Once the man left the bank, the branch manager and another employee chased the suspect to Lonsdale Quay, DeVries said. When the suspect realized he was being followed, he tried to hail a taxi, only to be cornered by the cab driver and two men. They held the suspect down until police arrived.

"There was a minor struggle," DeVries noted.

Police recovered the money but found no weapons on the male. The bank employees, however, had no way of knowing that was the case when they started their pursuit, DeVries noted.

"In our culture, a bank robbery is an archetype of 'right versus wrong'," he said. "In this case, because of the actions of three conscientious citizens, 'right' prevailed."

Gabriel Williams has been charged with one count of robbery. Police believe he is also responsible for a string of burglaries across the Lower Mainland in recent weeks. Investigators have recommended four additional charges be laid against Williams — one for a robbery at the same North Vancouver Bank of Montreal on Jan. 13 and three robberies in Vancouver between Dec. 31 and Jan. 8.

Police are awaiting Crown Counsel's decision on the later allegations, as well as two additional charges of Breach Of Recognizance.

Williams is currently being held in custody.

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