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Jan. 19, 2021 | Tuesday
Local News
Machete-wielding man robs Avondale store in Virgil
The Avondale store in Virgil was the target of an armed robbery Wednesday evening. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

The armed robbery of an Avondale store in Virgil Wednesday night by a machete-wielding man was a scary situation, but the 19-year-old clerk who dealt with the suspect did an excellent job and “thought on her feet,” says the store's manager.

“To me, it’s a coward," manager Kathy Brown said about the suspect. "Picking on a little – she’s just a little wee thing – and picking on a little girl" who was minding the store.

When the suspect entered the store around 9:30 p.m. and first walked past the clerk, Brown said the young woman told her she felt “spooky.”

She picked up the phone because she felt something was off but the suspect told her to put the phone down, Brown said.

The man then came up to the counter and pulled out a machete. He told the woman he wanted money and then he came around the counter and stood next to her, Brown said.

The man wanted a specific brand of cigarettes, Brown said. After taking a few packs of Belmont cigarettes and a few hundred dollars, he left the store.

The whole incident lasted about four minutes.

After the man left, the clerk locked the door and pushed the panic button. Police arrived at the store within four minutes.

“She shook up, she’s just a tiny little thing,” Brown said. “It’s just wrong, just wrong.”

Brown said she received a call from the alarm company and by the time the clerk had called her, Brown was already on her way to the store.

The young woman had calmed down by the time Brown arrived, but whether she will decide to come back to work is “another thing,” Brown told The Lake Report.

“I wouldn’t if I was her. Unfortunately, it’s part of the job and you just hope it doesn’t happen.”

"A lot” of police officers responded to the emergency call, Brown said, and they were out looking for the suspect. Two officers stayed with the clerk in the store and they asked the manager to pull out the video footage from the store's security cameras.

Niagara Regional Police described the suspect as a black male, with a medium build, and about 5 foot 5 inches tall. He was wearing a black balaclava, dark grey sweater, black pants and white running shoes.

Based on what the clerk said, the suspect sounded like he was in his 20s, Brown said.

Nothing like this has ever happened since Brown started working at Avondale three years ago, she said.

In September, two restaurants near Avondale on Niagara Stone Road, Sono’s Café and Silks Country Kitchen, were the targets of overnight break-ins.

Brown said she doesn’t know if the suspect was a local but said she has noticed a change in people and customers over the past three years.

“The demeanour, there’s more aggression … The town is growing and it’s not local. Just unfortunately when you grow, you don’t get all good people. The bad people come, too.”

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the Niagara police detective office at (905)-688-4111 ext. 9546.