2 Edmonton convenience store clerks executed in robberies

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht expressed outrage Friday at what he called two gratuitous, barbaric and evil acts of violence in which two Mac’s convenience store clerks were “executed” early Friday in connected overnight armed robberies.

“It is very rare that we see this kind of senseless and random violence in our city,” Knecht said.

“Still, two innocent people lost their lives today, and there are family members here and overseas that will have their holiday season devastated by this news. We should be outraged as a community.

“These were extreme acts of violence. I’ve talked to the investigators before I came in here and they say it was over-the-top violence. Absolutely unnecessary, gratuitous, evil.”

Three male suspects are in custody, ages 26, 24 and 13. All have records and all are prohibited from possessing firearms, Knecht said.

Police have identified one of the dead men as Karanpal Singh Bhangu, 35. Police are not releasing the name of the second victim, aged 41, until family have been notified.

‘They did not fight back. In fact, I would say they did not expect to be executed’

“They did not fight back,” Knecht said. “In fact, I would say they did not expect to be executed.”

At 3:28 a.m. Friday, a panic alarm was sounded from a Mac’s store at 32nd Avenue and 82nd Street. Police called the store but didn’t get an answer so a patrol car was dispatched. The officer found a man in medical distress. A second officer arrived. They began CPR on the victim but he died later in hospital.

At 3:42 a.m., a 911 call was received from a Mac’s store at 108th Street and 61st Avenue. A citizen had found the store clerk injured and bleeding on the floor. Police believe the victim had been dragged into a back storeroom by the robbers. The man, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Knecht said the store at 32nd Avenue and 82nd Street was likely robbed first, but police don’t know that for certain.

Information was immediately fanned out to other patrol officers to be on the lookout for suspects. Officers were directed to check on other Mac’s stores if possible.

Southwest Division patrol officers in the Callingwood area spotted a suspicious vehicle near another Mac’s store and noticed occupants matching the suspect descriptions.

“The direction was very, I would say, astute, in heading to other Mac’s stores,” Knecht said. “Those Mac’s stores were covered off once they saw a pattern — a very short, a very small pattern. They went to the other Mac’s stores and it was right place at the right time using, I would say, some good policing.”

Officers approached the vehicle, a Honda Element, and it fled. The vehicle, eastbound on Whitemud Drive, crashed into a barrier under the Terwillegar overpass. The suspects were arrested without incident. The Honda had been stolen in Strathcona County.

Bonnie Birollo, Mac’s vice-president of operations for Western Canada said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

“This is a sad day in the history of Mac’s. My heart aches for the many lives impacted by this tragedy and especially for the families of the two victims,” Birollo said in the statement. “We are doing all we can to support our people and to reach out to those in need.”

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