Two Rogers employees were allegedly pepper sprayed, tied up and threatened with a knife Thursday night during a violent robbery at the Rogers store at on Montreal Rd in east Ottawa.
Ottawa police have arrested seven people, each of them charged with two counts of robbery and a single count of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
At around 6:50 p.m., two men wearing disguises entered the store, one wielding a knife, the other carrying a form of pepper spray, according to police.
"Two employees were sprayed with the substance and both were later bound," said Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch of the Ottawa police robbery unit.
"It's to gain compliance, whether it was actually needed or not," said Haarbosch. "It was potentially violence for the sake of violence, that always concerns me."
Haarbosch said the two workers on duty were treated at the scene by paramedics and didn't need to go to the hospital.
The two alleged robbers loaded up an undisclosed number of cellphones and fled the store parking lot where a vehicle was waiting with five other people, said Haarbosch.
A short time later, police spotted the vehicle and arrested five of the suspects. During the course of the investigation police found and arrested two other suspects, he said.
Six men and one woman were expected to appear in court Friday. They range in age from 21-35 and are from Ottawa, Montreal and Laval, Que. More charges are expected, said police.
Stores beefing up security
Rogers is now hiring security guards for at least two weeks to ensure workers feel safe.
"We're working cooperatively with police and most importantly, we're glad that our employees at this store are OK," wrote Andrew Garas, manager of media relations at Rogers, in a statement.
Workers at neighbouring businesses say people have tried to break into their stores overnight, but they have never experienced anything violent like this.
"That's probably the scariest part that it wasn't in the middle of the night or anything," said Matt Guyan, manager at Cloud Co. Vapor, two doors down. "It's quite frightening."
"Something like this is a little scary, especially for employees. I hope they're doing OK. I really hope the best for them," he added.
Guyan's store also has plans to bolster its security system.