Canada: Police arrest 22 suspects, including 11 minors, over dozens of GTA cellphone store robberies, still seeking two more - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaPolice arrest 22 suspects, including 11 minors, over dozens of GTA cellphone store robberies, still seeking two more

21:50  12 june  2019
21:50  12 june  2019 Source:   thestar.com

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Police arrest 22 suspects, including 11 minors, over dozens of GTA cellphone store robberies, still seeking two more © Provided by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited A video of one of the nine unsolved robberies still being investigated by police, which took place on Feb. 11, shows two male suspects assault a store employee and 83-year-old customer.

Toronto police have arrested 22 male suspects, many of them minors, in connection with a series of 32 cellphone store robberies across the GTA over starting late last year, and are still seeking two more.

The arrests follow a six-month investigation into robberies allegedly committed by a group dubbed the Matrix Bandits, Insp. Lauren Pogue of the Toronto police hold-up unit said at a Wednesday news conference.

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Nine of the 32 robberies are still under investigation, said Poque, and police are seeking two male suspects in connection with them. She released security camera fotage of one of these robberies during the news conference, which can be viewed on the Toronto police YouTube channel.

In that case, two males allegedly entered a store near the intersection of Lawrence Ave. W. and Allen Rd. on Feb. 11 and robbed it. The men allegedly assaulted a store employee and an 83-year-old female customer with a baton before fleeing with numerous cellphones, Pogue said.

“What’s particularly disturbing about this video is that by all accounts this employee and this customer are complying with all the demands,” said Poque. “It’s an unprovoked assault and entirely unnecessary.”

2 men seriously injured in shooting on TTC bus in Etobicoke

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I’m truly hoping that after viewing this video, someone from the community will help us solve this crime,” she said.

Police described the two remaining suspects as male, Black, in their mid-20s, and between five-foot-10 and six-foot. One male was wearing a puffy winter coat with a blue, white and red horizontal stripe, and the second was wearing a medium blue puffy jacket.

The investigation into the robberies began in December 2018 as a joint effort between York, Peel, Halton and Toronto police. So far it has involved 13 search warrants and resulted in 278 charges relating to 23 cellphone store robberies, two carjackings, a street robbery and seven thefts of vehicles from Toronto, York, Barrie and Halton.

During the robberies, groups of between two and five males used zip ties, threats and weapons to control employees and customers in the stores, police said. The suspects then allegedly ordered employees to fill gym bags with cellphones before fleeing in stolen vehicles.

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Police said the robberies escalated after new members were recruited to the group through social media, the targetted area expanded and new clothing was used to disguise the suspects’ identities. The ages of people allegedly involved ranges from 15 to 25, police said. Some of the accused had no previous contact with police.

Several people have been arrested since January.

Between Jan. 12 and 17, police arrested 19-year-old Junior Hazzard of Toronto, 18-year-old Ray Hamzah of Brampton, 19-year-old Jemeal Fyke of Scarborough, four minors from Toronto and one minor from North York.

On Feb. 6, police arrested a minor from Brampton.

Between April 1 and 15, police arrested 18-year-old Haleem Abdelrahman of Brampton, 23-year-old Brandon Kassa of Toronto, three minors from Brampton and one minor from Toronto.

On April 29, police arrested 19-year-old Joshua Alraie of Whitby, 21-year-old Karic Browne of Ajax, 19-year-old Donato Schiraldi of Toronto, 20-year-old Fuad Giwa of Toronto and 24-year-old Micael Kellete of Toronto.

And on June 4, police arrested 25-year-old Omar Parker and a minor, both of Brampton.

The youths cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Combined, the 22 suspects face 278 charges including robbery, theft of motor vehicles, wearing a disguise with the intent to commit a crime and assault with a weapon.

Anyone with information about any of these incidents is asked to contact police at 416-808-7350 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

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