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Armed robber fished out of Cowichan Lake

An armed robbery suspect was plucked out of Cowichan Lake Saturday after a robbery in Youbou.

On April 5, at about 4:30 p.m., a hooded male with a balaclava covering his face entered the Shop and Save convenience store with a chisel and demanded money.

“After pushing the female store owner (Rose Steven) out of the way, the suspect stole the cash drawer from the register and fled the scene on foot,” said Lake Cowichan RCMP  Const. Grant Desmet in a press release. “The store owner’s husband (Kerry Steven) witnessed the robbery and chased after the male as he ran from the scene. The suspect was located a short distance away trying to hide in a yard but when discovered he decided to jump into the lake and swim out to a nearby log boom.”

The male surrendered to police as they got to him and the cash stolen was retrieved by the officers.

“The suspect had thrown the weapon used in the robbery into Cowichan Lake,” wrote Desmet, who was the lead investigator and was at the scene immediately. “It was later recovered by the RCMP Dive Team.

“Duncan resident, (Travis) Katzel, age 20, is in custody charged with robbery, disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence and mischief under $5,000. After further investigation, police are also recommending a charge of assault and fail to comply with a condition of an undertaking. Katzel appeared in Duncan court on April 7 and was remanded into custody.”

Store owner Rose said  Katzel originally entered the store with two other males.

“Three of them came in, with one of them engaging me, and then they left,” said Steven. “About half an hour later, Katzel came back in and threatened to stab me. He took the whole cash drawer in one hand and the weapon in the other and ran off, raising his leg at waist height to kick the door open as his hands were full.

“My husband Kerry witnessed the robbery as (Katzel) stood over me and threatened to stab me. Once he realized I was safe he ran after the guy and went outside to get help.”

Desmet gave credit to the swift action of the store owners and nearby residents.

RCMP also commended them  for “not trying to confront the suspect physically, but rather observe from a distance and point out his location when police arrived.”

Assistance was also provided by the North Cowichan Duncan RCMP Police Dog Service, Island District RCMP General Investigative Section, RCMP Forensic Identification Section, and the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team.

Desmet stated all of those groups “provided the necessary evidence to ensure a successful conclusion to this investigation.”

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