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Suspect in Edmonton bank explosions was planning more attacks: EPS
Published Tuesday, March 12, 2019 10:14AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:19PM MDT
A 38-year-old man has been charged after explosions and robberies at two Edmonton banks in 2018.
The first explosion happened at an RBC on 27 Avenue SW and 141 Street SW around 1:40 a.m. on Sept. 19. Police said an improvised explosive device had detonated inside the bank’s vestibule.
Two armoured vehicle guards were taken to hospital as a precaution.
Police say no money was stolen during the incident.
The second incident happened at a Scotiabank on 82 Street and 160 Street around 2:10 a.m. on Dec. 13.
Two armoured vehicle guards were injured after they entered the lobby of the bank when the explosion happened. One guard was knocked to the ground; the second employee went back outside the bank. At this point a second explosion happened.
Police say the suspect entered the bank at that point and grabbed the deposit bag full of money and fled on foot to a waiting vehicle.
The thief, who was wearing a disguise, stole an undisclosed amount of money and fled on foot.
The two guards were taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. One of the guards sustained hearing loss during the explosion. The second guard still hasn’t returned to work.
Police tracked a suspect to Salmon Arm, B.C., where they worked with RCMP to execute a search warrant at the suspect’s home.
While executing the search warrant, police say they recovered some of the money that was stolen during the second robbery, as well as evidence of future attacks in Edmonton.
“We believe Mr. Byron was planning more attacks,” Staff Sgt. Rob Mills told media on Tuesday. “Those attacks would have put armoured guard employees at risk.”
Justin Byron, 38, of Salmon Arm, B.C. has been charged with two counts of robbery with a firearm, two counts of attempted robbery, four counts of using an explosive device, two counts of possession of an explosive material, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of disguise with intent in connection with the cases.
Byron was arrested on Mar. 4 at the Edmonton International Airport.
Police say Byron lives on an acreage in Salmon Arm, and they’re not sure why he would allegedly target banks in Edmonton.
When asked about Byron’s criminal history, Staff Sgt. Mills confirmed that Byron has one historical charge that’s not related to this case.
He is scheduled to appear in court on March 15.