Northern B.C. man arrested after using hatchet in violent robbery in Victoria

A Fort Nelson man is in custody and facing multiple charges after allegedly using a hatchet during a violent robbery at a Victoria hardware store last week.

Victoria Police say officers were called to the Home Hardware store in the 1900-block of Oak Bay Avenue for a report of a robbery on Nov. 1.

According to victims and witnesses, a man entered the store and began picking up various items, including the hatchet.

When he tried to leave the store with those items, an employee tried to stop him. That’s when the man allegedly attacked the employee with the hatchet, leaving the employee with non-life threatening injuries.

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Two customers stepped in and disarmed the man, according to police.

The man then came back into the store and grabbed a poppy donation box from the counter while confronting the injured employee. Another staff member was assaulted by the man after trying to intervene, sustaining non-life threatening injuries.

The suspect then fled the store, followed closely by the store manager, who the suspect then confronted with a large rock. The store manager stepped back to avoid getting hit, but lost sight of the man before police arrived.

Police searched the area but could not find the suspect.

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After watching surveillance video of the incident, police discovered the suspect, identified as Gary Reno, was wanted on outstanding province-wide warrants for sexual interference, assaulting a police officer, assault, uttering threats, mischief and other offences.

Court records show those charges date back to 2018 and are all based in Fort Nelson.

After Victoria Police’s Major Crimes Division took over the case, investigators determined Reno was in Saanich.

On Tuesday, Saanich Police took Reno into custody without incident, with help from police dog services.

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Reno now faces new charges of weapons possession, robbery and assault causing bodily harm, in addition to the charges related to his outstanding warrants. The charges were sworn a day after his arrest.

He’s due to appear back in court to face the Victoria-related charges on Wednesday, while a court date of Nov. 19 has been set in Fort Nelson.

Court records show Reno has faced jail time for similar offences throughout northern B.C., including Fort Nelson and Telegraph Creek, dating back to 2014.

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