The incident lasted less than a minute, left some credit union employees traumatized and resulted in a small payout for an armed robber.
Dressed in a black balaclava, a long-sleeved, black cotton shirt and dark jeans that were equipped with a make-shift holster taped to his right leg, a man walked into the downtown branch of the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union at 4:15 Monday afternoon.
Police report he approached the teller counter with what witnesses described as a sawed-off shotgun in hand and demanded money. An undisclosed amount of cash was turned over which he placed in a black sports bag. He then fled the area on an unusual getaway vehicle – a bicycle.
He was described as thin and possibly 6 ft. 3 in. tall.
Upon arrival, police surrounded the area and set up perimeters but were unable to locate the suspect. Witnesses reported seeing a police officer parked at the Husky station carrying a gun.
Staff Sgt. Scott West explained a number of officers are trained with carbines, a long gun that mounts on the front of the police vest.
West said a couple of witnesses stated the suspect might have headed eastbound on Lakeshore Drive, but after that the reports ended.
He said police are investigating all leads. Officers would like the public’s assistance in providing any information about anyone matching the suspect’s description who may have been seen around downtown on July 27. You are asked to call Salmon Arm RCMP at 250-832-6044 or, to leave an anonymous tip, call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Michael Wagner, SASCU’s CEO, said staff were offered trauma counselling and some have been taking part after the frightening incident.
“The employee involved, as you can imagine, was completely traumatized, so we provided support to her and the rest of the employees involved.”
Wagner emphasized that this type of event is very rare.
“In my career spanning 45 years, I think I’ve been in organizations where we’ve seen probably five of them. Two of them were actually at the credit union. There was an incident not quite like this at our Sorrento branch three or four years ago.”
He said violent crime in Canada is going down and it was emphasized to staff Tuesday that what you might see in the news, particularly in the U.S., or in the movies, could give you the wrong impression regarding the incidence of such violence.
He expressed frustration that robbers target banks and credit unions because, as society relies more on cards, the institutions hold very little cash now and tellers no longer have cash drawers.