Iqaluit cashier foils gunman

Afraid for his life, clerk fought back against stick-up artist



IQALUIT — An Iqaluit store clerk may have saved his own

life last weekend when he attacked and disarmed a rifle-wielding robber.

Jordan Bens, 20, was working at the Corner Store around 11 p.m. on Sept. 30 when a masked youth stepped into the store, fired a bullet into the ceiling and demanded money.

Bens emptied the till and gave the cash to the gunman, but the robber then walked around the counter and trained his sawed-off .22-calibre rifle at Bens’ forehead.

That’s when Bens flew into action.

“When he came right to me, I thought that’s when he was coming to shoot me,” a shaky-voiced Bens said two days after the hold-up. “I was really scared, so then I grabbed the gun, and we wrestled for a bit.”

During the 30-second scuffle, Bens said, he was able to muscle the rifle away from the robber and tear off the ski mask.

When the robber bolted for the door, Bens knocked him down. The clerk then tried to shut the door to trap the robber, but the youth raced out of the store.

Both Bens and a person outside the store recognized the robber and provided his name to police. The suspect — a teenage boy who cannot be identified because of his age — was found and arrested without incident about an hour and a half later.

The suspect appeared in court Monday and was charged as a young offender.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Jeffrey said he was shocked by the young robber’s audacity.

“He definitely watched too many movies,” Jeffrey said. “When I heard about this, I said, ‘Oh my God.’”

Jeffrey said it’s sheer luck no one was hurt in the hold-up. In addition to Bens, a teenage girl with a baby was in the store when the robbery occurred.

“It was an extremely dangerous act,” Jeffrey said. “The bullet could have ricocheted. It could have gone through the ceiling and hit somebody upstairs. It didn’t, but it could have.”

The hold-up made store owner Gary Gee irate.

“This is a kid who thinks he’s tough,” Gee said of the robber. “The question I have is, ‘Where are the parents?’ Somebody could have got killed here. Anyone who comes into a store with a mask and a gun doesn’t belong in this community.”

Gee, who opened the 24-hour convenience store in the Igluvut Building this spring, said criminals won’t intimidate him and his staff. “We’re not going to get cowed by individuals who don’t respect that we work hard for our living,” he said.

Gee said the robber made off with around $1,100 — only some of which was recovered. He said insurance should cover the stolen money.

Back at his job two nights after the hold-up, Bens admits he’s still a bit nervous about working the late shift.

He said his actions during the robbery were fueled more by fear than courage. And he still wonders what the robber would have done to him if he hadn’t fought back.

“Some people think I’m crazy, and some people think I’m brave,” Bens said.

And which is it?

“Neither,” Bens said. “I’ll let the public decide.”

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