Four suspects – including one allegedly linked to human trafficking – are facing charges in connection with a violent bank robbery spree across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Burlington and Milton.
“Robberies such as these have a deep impact on the involved bank employees, innocent bystanders and even their families. The blatant disregard for victims that these arrested persons demonstrated represent some of the greatest risk to community safety,” said Halton Regional Police Deputy Chief Nish Duraiappah.
“Our investigators have worked tirelessly with partnering police agencies to identify and arrest them. We’re pleased to have put an end to these violent robberies.”
The first incident took place in Burlington on Feb. 1 at 7:50 p.m.
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Halton police were sent to a Scotiabank at 4519 Dundas St. for an armed robbery.
Three male suspects, one of whom was armed, made off with cash and left the bank heading southbound on foot.
Two bank employees were assaulted and suffered minor injuries, say police.
The next armed robbery call was on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Scotiabank at 880 Main St. E. in Milton.
Two masked male suspects, one of whom was armed, entered the bank shortly before closing and demanded cash.
A bank employee, who attempted to intervene, was assaulted by one of the suspects and suffered minor injuries.
Halton police investigators began surveillance of the suspects – calling them “persons of interest” – on Feb.14 and allege seeing a group of people near a Scotiabank at Rathburn Rd. and Renforth Dr. in Toronto.
Police continued to watch the group, alleging they were “engaging in activity consistent with a potential robbery of the financial institution.”
Officers contacted the bank and had employees and clients moved to a safe location.
In addition, the doors to the bank were secured.
Plainclothes investigators arrested two suspects “prepared to commit the bank robbery” before they entered the bank.
A total of three suspects – two males and a female – were charged by Toronto police in the Feb. 14 incident.
Gareth Baugh, 19, of Toronto, is charged with robbery and disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Jazmyn Elias-Weibl, 18, of Mississauga, is charged with robbery and disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence.
A young offender – whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act – is also facing the same charges.
Investigators searched the home of the first suspect on Feb. 15, seizing cash, a replica firearm, and several pieces of clothing allegedly linked to the armed robberies.
A Milton home was about to be searched on Feb. 22 when police saw the suspect leaving with “several associates.” A traffic stop was conducted and he was arrested without incident. A search of the vehicle led to the seizure of several thousand dollars in Canadian currency, police say.
Investigators went back to search the home of the fourth suspect on Feb. 23, resulting in the seizure of a loaded .22 caliber handgun, police say.
In addition, drugs were seized along with various items of clothing believed to be linked to the robbery in Milton and other robberies throughout the GTA, police allege.
Tyriq Brooks, 19, of Milton, is charged with obbery with a firearm, point firearm, wear disguise with intent, possession of a restricted firearm, possession of a weapon for the dangerous purpose, careless use of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, and three counts of fail to comply with recognizance.
There are also outstanding arrest warrants for Brooks from several police services in Ontario for human trafficking-related charges, say investigators.
Police allege Brooks is also linked to the Milton and Burlington robberies and say more charges are anticipated.
Anyone with information pertaining to the Halton robberies are being asked to contact Det. Paul Harrower at 905-825-4747 ext. 2491 (Milton and Halton Hills) and Det. Phil Vandenbeukel at 905-825-4747 ext. 2343 (Burlington). Anonymous tips can be forwarded to Crime Stoppers; “See Something, Hear Something, Know Something — Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), through the web at www.crimestoppers.ca or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).