Garry Amyot went to Scotiabank in Abbotsford on Wednesday (June 2) to check on the status of a new bank card, but instead he helped thwart an armed robbery.
Amyot, 68, was one of four customers inside the bank on Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way who tackled the gun-wielding culprit before the suspect could leave the premises.
Amyot said he was in a line to inquire about his new card at about 11:30 a.m. when another customer walked past the line, and Amyot noticed the person was acting unusual.
“All of a sudden, the guy walks in past us, pulls out a 12-gauge shotgun and yells out, ‘Everybody! This is a bank robbery, nobody move!’ ” Amyot said.
“So I’m looking from a little distance and I see the shotgun, and I own and know firearms so I’m thinking this is pretty serious, but I’m also thinking, ‘I’m not going to die today.’ “
The suspect threw a bag to Amyot, who then passed it to a teller. As the tellers began filling the bag with money, Amyot shared a glance with another customer behind the suspect and the wheels began turning in his head.
“When I looked at that guy I just knew he was going to do something no matter what,” Amyot said, noting he could tell the fellow customer looked irritated. “I wasn’t going to let him do this by himself. I winked at him and that was the green light – we were comrades in this situation.”
Suddenly, the other man in line grabbed the suspect’s gun and pointed it straight up to avoid anyone getting hurt. Amyot quickly followed and tackled the suspect.
“It all happened so freaking fast,” Amyot said. “The other guy grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and then milliseconds later – bang! – we’re all on the ground. I’ve got my arms around his back and my elbow in his face and we have him pinned down. The gun was on the floor and I remember telling someone, ‘Kick that gun out of the way!’ “
Two other customers assisted in restraining the suspect until the police arrived a few minutes later.
“It was so surreal; it all happened so fast,” Amyot said.
Amyot, who has about 15 years of martial arts training, said the situation was intense but he felt confident.
“It was all instinct,” he said. “But my adrenaline was pumping so fast after that.”
Amyot, who works at Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Abbotsford, said Tuesdays and Wednesdays are his days off but after the incident at the bank he decided to engage in some liquid counselling.
“I went and had something to eat because I hadn’t ate anything all day but the next thing I did was go to the liquor store. I bought a case of beer, came home, had a shot of tequila and a beer or two,” he said.
When Amyot arrived home after the incident, he discovered that the bank card he had gone to the bank to check on had arrived in the mail.
He said he doesn’t consider himself a hero and just wanted everyone in the bank to be safe.
Amyot has lived in Abbotsford on and off for the past two decades and said he thinks it would be nice for the man who stopped the suspect and himself to receive some sort of recognition from the city.
“I’d be OK with getting some sort of commendation or a placard or a medal from the city of Abbotsford,” he said. “We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
He also said he’d be OK with getting some sort of acknowledgement or tip of the hat from Scotiabank itself.
“It’s good that it all came out the way it came out, but I’d be fine if Scotiabank decided to take care of whatever is left on my credit card for me,” he joked.
The 46-year-old suspect remains in police custody facing numerous charges, including robbery and weapons offences. Police are continuing to investigate.