Victims of armed robbery: 'We work hard to live not to die'
Ottawa Police have made several arrests in connection with an armed robbery that spiraled out of control.
Eastview Pizza, in Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood, was held-up at gunpoint just before 8pm Sunday, “two guys walk in the door and they were wearing masks,” says one of the Pizzeria’s owners Nemr El-Salibi, “I ask them to take off your masks if you want to come in, so one of them pulled out a gun and the second one pulled out a steel bar.”
El-Salibi says even though the men were armed they were acting more like petty criminals, “he took the money, about $1000, and he jumped to the cigarettes and they started pulling out cigarettes and throwing them in his bag. After that they ran.”
Police, armed with the canine unit, tracked the suspects to an apartment building just a few blocks away at 296 Blake Boulevard. The duo refused to surrender, igniting a barricade situation involving the Ottawa Police SWAT team, “they didn’t want to surrender themselves to police so there are certain steps that we have to go through to work through it safely and effectively,” says the head of the Ottawa Police Robbery Unit Staff Sergeant Michael Haarbosch.
Afer a four-hour stand-off, five people were handcuffed and eventually taken into police custody without any major issues. Police say one suspect suffered minor injuries during the arrest.
The Robbery Unit has now charged two people in connection with the armed robbery and one person in connection with the barricade incident. The two others taken into custody were eventually released without charges.
Dylan Meulmeester, 23, and Mathew Carlsson, 28, have both been charged with three counts of robbery, use of a firearm in commission with an offence and conspiracy. Carlsson is also charged with three counts of pointing a firearm, wearing a disguise, obstructing police officer and two counts of breach of undertaking. Meulmeester is also charged with wearing a disguise, two counts of breach of recognizance, obstructing a peace officer and personation. Police say more charges may be pending.
Carlsson was previously wanted in connection with an October 30, 2016 robbery on Parkdale Avenue.
Charges are pending against the third suspect in direct connection with the barricade incident.
Back at Eastview Pizza, El-Salibi, still can’t believe how a robbery over a thousand dollars and smokes could turn into something so big, but he knows his family did the right thing, “there is a gun involved and we’re not stupid, he could kill us. We work hard to live not to die.”