'He could've hurt me': Man from Hay River, N.W.T., helps stop alleged Edmonton robbery

A man from Hay River, N.W.T., helped stop an alleged robbery in Edmonton over the weekend.

Adam Aylward brought his sons to the city to visit their mother who is currently in the University of Alberta hospital battling with cancer.

For the past two years, they have been commuting back and forth between the two places for different appointments.

On Saturday, Aylward took his sons to the Bell store at the Southgate Centre mall to get a new phone and two new tablets.

Aylward said after they purchased the tablets, the store clerk who was assisting them put the items on the counter and rested his own phone on top of the electronics.

I just ran.– Adam Aylward

That’s when Aylward said the unexpected happened, when a man entered the store and stood near the clerk.

“The guy that was standing behind him just looking at the phones all of a sudden turned around and casually grabbed the tablets and walked out the door.” 

An image of Southgate Shopping Centre in south Edmonton. Adam Aylward was at the mall with his sons shopping at the Bell store when he said the robbery happened. (Google Street View)

Bystanders help out

Aylward’s sons noticed the man taking away before he did, and told their father. Aylward said before he even had time to think the situation through, he began chasing the man through the mall.

“My younger son was the one that ran out to the hallway with me immediately and he said when he pointed him out, I just ran. He said, in his words, ‘it was like you were Usain Bolt.'”

Aylward said other bystanders joined in on the chase, and helped him bring the man to the floor. Shortly after, he said the mall’s security came to the scene and assisted in detaining the man.

He said having those other people help him out, and having the support of the security staff meant a lot to him and gave him faith during a difficult time for his family.

“In my heart I believe that people are good … if there’s more people that step in and help whenever we’re in need, the world would be a much better place I think.” 

For the past two years, Aylward and his wife have been commuting between Hay River and Edmonton for different appointments. (Submitted by Adam Aylward)

‘He could’ve hurt someone’

Edmonton Police Service confirmed via email to CBC News that an investigation confirmed a male suspect had walked into the Bell store and allegedly stole two tablets. The electronics were recovered from that man, said police.

Police said they charged a 36-year-old man with seven charges in relation to the incident — including theft, possession of a stolen credit card, and possession of stolen property. 

In retrospect, Aylward said he now realizes the situation could have potentially been dangerous and he acted without fully thinking it through.

“He could’ve been armed. He could’ve hurt me. He could’ve hurt someone else. And with all that’s going on with my wife of course I think about those things afterwards.”

As for his sons, Aylward said they look up to him for what he did. But for him, he’s just glad he could give his kids a moment of hope in a challenging time.

“You know my kids have been through a lot,” said Aylward. “I felt that no, this is not going to be something else that’s going to happen to my kids. I was getting that stuff back pronto.” 

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