The 19-year-old girl who faced an armed robber at the Virgil Avondale last Wednesday is back at work, and doing well.
Kathy Brown, manager of the convenience store, says the clerk is a “wee little thing,” but she’s being very strong and wanted to get back behind the counter.
She’s had a few shifts, but not alone, says Brown.
“She had to come back. If she’d waited, she might not ever have been able to. I’m so proud of her.”
The young clerk was alone that evening, and it was not even her shift — she doesn’t usually work evenings. But Brown had to find someone at the last minute to cover it, and called her in.
There was no one else in the store around 9:30 p.m. when a man wearing a balaclava walked in, and the clerk, realizing something was wrong, reached for the phone to call the police.
He pulled out a machete, and told her to put the phone down, came around the counter and demanded money.
Brown has watched the video of the robbery, and found it very upsetting to see the terrifying experience the clerk had gone through.
“It was very traumatic. It was like watching a horror movie when you know the people in it.”
In addition to the money, he also took some cigarettes, she says.
Once he had what he wanted he left the store, and the clerk pushed the panic button and locked the door. It all happened very quickly, Brown says.
The video is very clear, and hopefully will be helpful to the police, she adds.
The Niagara Regional Police arrived quickly, and were very thorough. They tested for fingerprints, and brought dogs to track the man — they know he went in the direction of the LCBO, says Brown. They also looked at the video footage.
“The police were awesome. They did a really good job.”
Looking back on that evening, she thinks the robber might have been made bold by the fact that the plaza was empty. Silks Country Kitchen next door was closed for renovations, and Gales Gas Bar has also been closed for some upgrades to the station.
Domino’s Pizza was open, and there was only one other car in the parking lot, which is very unusual for the busy Avondale store.
“When Silks is open, we always have regulars coming in for cigarettes or scratch tickets.”
The mood among employees in the Village Green Plaza has changed since the robbery, says Brown. They are nervous, and they are looking after each other.
“Everybody keeps popping in, checking on each other. Everyone’s a little nervous. I’ve been here three years and I’ve never felt that way before. I’d walk to my car in the dark and not think about it. Now I’m scared — I think from watching the video.”
It’s always been considered a safe neighbourhood, she says, but there have been three other robberies in the area recently, although not with weapons.
Niagara Regional Police described the suspect as a black male, about 5 foot 5 inches tall, with a medium build, and wearing dark clothes.
Although the police report says he was wearing white shoes, from another angle the video shows black shoes, says Brown.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the NRP at 905-688-4111, ext. 9546.