Police are investigating the roles of four suspects in a series of armed robberies in Salmon Arm and Vernon following a dramatic chase Saturday, which ended when police used a spike belt to disable a stolen truck near the junction of Highway 97B and 10th Avenue NE.
The incident began at 4:30 p.m. when a 2003 Ford F350 pickup, which had been reported stolen in Vernon on April 8, was spotted travelling south on 30th Street NE by a Salmon Arm RCMP officer.
Several officers went to the area and attempted to stop the vehicle on 10th Avenue SE near Highway 97B. The driver refused to stop for police and sped down 10th Avenue, then turning onto 70th Street SE. The vehicle could not exit the dead-end road, so it cut across a private driveway and onto a farmer’s field, where it drove across the field, through a fence and back onto 70th Street SE.
A spike belt was set up at the 10th Avenue NE intersection and the stolen truck ran over it, coming to a stop near the Countryside Mobile Home display parking lot.
Two men ran from the truck, but were pursued by police and arrested a short time later. A woman got out of the truck and was immediately arrested in the parking lot. Another man was arrested while attempting to hide in a nearby trailer park.
A police dog searching the area later discovered a discarded handgun and nylon pantyhose.
Jason Ross Cameron, 33, from Celista has been charged with possession of stolen property and failing to stop for police. He also has warrants for his arrest out of Alberta for 16 criminal charges ranging from break and enter to breach of probation.
Michael Patrick Williams, 34, from Drayton Valley, Alta., is facing charges of possession of stolen property and mischief. Bruce Allan Cameron, 46, of Salmon Arm has been charged with mischief.
The three men are scheduled to appear in Salmon Arm Provincial Court today, Wednesday, April 13.
A 22-year-old woman from Enderby has been released from police custody on a promise to appear in court for potential charges of possession of stolen property. She has not been named because the charges are not finalized.
RCMP Sgt. Eric Castle says police believe two of the men in custody are also responsible for robberies at the Silver Creek Store on Thursday, the Cash Factory in Salmon Arm on Friday and are also being investigated for a break and enter at the Royal Bank in Vernon where a truck was driven through the glass front doors and a theft was attempted.
Both the Salmon Arm and Vernon RCMP detachments are continuing to investigate the possible connection of these suspects to the other robberies.
In the Silver Creek robbery, a lone man entered the store with a handgun and demanded cash, alcohol and cigarettes. After taking the items, he fled from the store and got into a waiting green Dodge Neon, which was recovered by police a short time later in the 2900 block of McTavish Road. The Neon had been stolen from the Mall at Piccadilly parking lot earlier in the day.
A black truck which had been parked in the McTavish Road area was then found to be missing and the cash till from the store was recovered in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road.
The primary suspect was described as 5’6” tall with a husky build wearing a black hoodie, a baseball cap and something over his face, possibly a nylon stocking. The man in the green car was wearing a grey hoodie.
The following day, April 8, at 2:48 p.m., there was an attempted armed robbery at Cash Factory Loans on Ross Street.
A lone man, matching the description of the Silver Creek robbery suspect, wearing a black hoodie, blue jeans and a nylon over his face, entered the business armed with a handgun and demanded cash.
The employee told the suspect there was no cash on hand and the suspect left empty-handed. A black extended cab pickup truck was used as a getaway vehicle.
On Saturday, April 9 at approximately 6:23 a.m., officers from the Vernon detachment were dispatched to a report of a break and enter at the Royal Bank, located on Highway 6.
“The investigation has learned that a truck was driven backwards into the bank stopping just short of the front counter,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk. “The closed-circuit TV in the bank has been able to capture still images of the two male suspects. The face of one of the males is partially concealed with a hoodie. The male in the passenger side of the vehicle was not able to get out of the vehicle as the folding curtain was up against the door and would not allow him out.”
The driver jumped over the counter and went behind; nothing appeared to have been stolen. Both men left in the vehicle, a white 2000 Ford, F-250. The stolen vehicle was recovered with considerable damage to it a short time later.
-With files from Vernon Morning Star