RCMP: no vigilante justice

Rob Gibson

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.

RCMP now confirm they were called to scene of the citizens arrest which took place Tuesday afternoon in the Superstore parking lot on Baron Road.

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey tells Castanet, "I can confirm that on July 16, 2019, shortly after 3 p.m., Kelowna RCMP were called to a disturbance in the area of the 2300 block of Baron Road. Police were also advised of a break and enter carried out during the early morning hours to a business located in the 1500 block of Sutherland Avenue."

RCMP indicate their records show the disturbance reportedly stemmed from an earlier break and enter, as two men confronted a male they believed to be involved in the incident. "The male suspect fled the area on foot as police arrived into the area. He was not located, nor arrested," according to O'Donaghey.

RCMP are still investigating both incidents, including the initial break-in at the Sutherland Super Wash and the circumstances surrounding the confrontation. "RCMP caution the public from taking matters into their own hands for safety reasons," states O'Donaghey.

"If you are the victim of a crime, or you spot a possible suspect connected to a previously committed crime, call it in. Our police dispatchers will gather the necessary information to assist our investigators, and provide you with guidance to ensure everyone's safety."

ORIGINAL 5:00 a.m.

A pair of Kelowna residents decided to take matters into their own hands after coming across a man suspected of a commercial break in Monday night.

Justin Brand used to manage the car wash at the Husky gas station on Harvey Avenue and he now owns his own business and has a contract with Sutherland Super Wash. Both businesses were robbed Monday night. 

"The owner of (Sutherland Super Wash) called and my associate went through the surveillance video and we identified the suspect on the video," Brand said. 

He says now that he owns his own business, he is sensitive to commercial crime in the city.

"The main thing I was kinda going for, I want those guys to know and to put out the word to their buddies that you could get stopped by some random guy who just happens to give a s**t."

While the suspect in the gas station robbery was arrested Monday night, and remains in custody, Brand says he believes he randomly saw the suspect in the car wash video in the parking lot of the Real Canadian Superstore on Tuesday, and when he and his associate identified the suspect, they flew into action.

"We just happened to see the same people in the same clothes walking down the street so we circled the area a little bit to see if we could find them and we found them," Brand said.

The video shows Brand and his associate confronting the man and woman and going through the man's bag. Brand says he recognized the person as the same one in the Sutherland Super Wash video because he was wearing the same clothes, and he saw his face on the surveillance video. He was hoping to find stolen goods inside the bag, but instead, he found the same bolt cutters that could be seen in the surveillance video.

"All I wanted to do was to get into that bag and see if we could find anything that tied him directly to that theft, even though we already knew. We had a clear face shot, same clothes, same longboard, same backpack. We knew it was him."

Brand then called the police.

"They showed up quickly and they thought there was a robbery in progress," Brand said.

After the confusion was sorted out, Brand says he thought the man was arrested, but couldn't be sure.

"We can keep collecting file numbers from the police, but I just thought in this case it made a lot of sense to do half the work for them," he said. 

RCMP tell Castanet they advise the public to not take matters into their own hands for safety reasons. Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey says: "We are aware of the incident in the Superstore parking lot on Tuesday and we are investigating."

Police told Brand what he did wasn't safe and that he probably could have handled it differently, but when asked if he would do it all again he didn't hesitate: "Absolutely."

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