Undies helped police identify Halifax jewelry store thieves: ‘He was still wearing Puma underwear’

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A suspect’s designer underwear at a jewelry store helped police identify him as one of three men currently charged with two broad daylight armed robberies in the Halifax area.

Halifax Regional Police were dispatched to Ash Jewelery on Quinpool Road on March 1 at 11 a.m.

“The store owner, Mr. Ashwani Rai, called 911 stating it had been robbed by two men with a shotgun,” the RCMP constable said. Denis Chartrand wrote in an information he filed in Dartmouth Provincial Court seeking a warrant in the case.

When investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the scene of the robbery, they could see a man “wearing a red hoodie with large black letters on the back spelling out IRA, black sweatpants, white shoes and gloves whites” entering the store at 10:56 a.m., Chartrand said, noting that the man’s Puma underwear was clearly visible in the video.

Rai and one of his employees, Trevor Ferguson, were the only other people in the store.

The man in the red hoodie, later identified as Daniel Christian Anthony Johnson, 27, “had a chain and was asking Mr. Rai if he was willing to trade it for something else,” Chartrand said.

“Mr. Rai says he can, and Mr. Johnson is seen walking around the store before walking to the back with Mr. Rai.

Ash Jewelery on Quinpool Road in Halifax, seen on June 14, 2022. – Chris Lambie

About a minute later, the jeweler ushered a second man into the locked store, whom police later identified as Colton Alan Grantmyre, then 26.

He wore a black hoodie, black pants, white shoes and a blue Puma satchel.

Seconds after entering the jewelry store, Grantmyre “is seen reaching for his backpack and pulling out what appears to be a sawed-off shotgun and pointing it at…Ferguson, who is standing outside the store and told to put his hands to the above his head and walk to the back of the store so no one gets hurt,” Chartrand said.

Two seconds later, Rai “turns around and runs out the back door and out of the camera into the parking lot before calling 911,” the constable said.

Two seconds later, “Trevor Ferguson is told to get on his knees and look away. Mr. Grantmyre and Mr. Johnson both walk to the back of the store.

Thirteen seconds later, the alleged thieves are seen on surveillance video exiting the store, “without taking any items,” just after Grantmyre put the shotgun back in his backpack, Chartrand said.

The Naughtypaw pet store, on Quinpool Road in Halifax, seen on June 14, 2022. - Chris Lambie
The Naughtypaw pet store, on Quinpool Road in Halifax, seen on June 14, 2022. – Chris Lambie

The pair took off on foot, turning west on Quinpool and then south on Preston Street, according to a woman who spotted them as she got out of her car in the parking lot between the Oxford Learning Center and the Naughtypaw, a pet store and grooming outfit.

Rai told investigators that Johnson went to her jewelry store earlier in the day wearing the same clothes.

When police checked the surveillance video, they confirmed that Johnson entered the store alone at 10:19 a.m. and stayed for just under a minute after speaking with Rai.

Investigators reviewed other surveillance video of the area captured between 9:30 a.m. and 10:19 a.m. Police located the car they believe was used in the attempted robbery, parked in a field diagonally through Quinpool from the jewelry store.

“Mr. Johnson is seen getting into the front passenger seat of the car before the vehicle reverses out of view of the camera,” Chartrand said. We see Johnson wearing the exact clothes he wore during the flight.”

Cash Trader Pawn Shop on Sackville Drive.  -Chris Lambie
Cash Trader Pawn Shop on Sackville Drive. -Chris Lambie

At approximately 12:18 p.m. Lower Sackville RCMP were called to an armed robbery at the Cash Trader Pawn Shop on Sackville Drive.

The owner, Ghassan Chater, “was visibly shaking and had difficulty explaining what had happened,” Chartrand said.

Chater told investigators he sat behind his counter drinking tea while a customer watched a video.

“He noticed two men entering the store and was approached by one who said he wanted to pawn something,” the constable said.

“The same man reached into her bag and pulled out a gun and told her to get down.”

The man holding the gun was “screaming ‘Where’s the money?'”

Chater told the shooter the safe was in the back of the store.

“He took a screwdriver and opened the safe where there was only gold jewelry,” Chartrand said.

As the shooter grabbed the gold with one hand, Chater grabbed the shotgun, Constable said. “Both of them struggled and the weapon discharged to the ground.”

The owner of the Cash Trader Pawn Shop on Sackville Drive chased the trio of armed jewelry thieves outside Hong's Kitchen restaurant.  -Chris Lambie
The owner of the Cash Trader Pawn Shop on Sackville Drive chased the trio of armed jewelry thieves outside Hong’s Kitchen restaurant. -Chris Lambie

As soon as the shot rang out, the thieves ran out of the pawnshop.

Chater “chased them both outside to Hong’s Kitchen restaurant where he eventually lost sight of them.”

A man who was in his car waiting to turn left onto Sackville Cross Road told police he saw ‘two guys running towards him on Sackville Drive’, with another man chasing them and screaming for help . “He couldn’t see the (faces of) the two running as they had their hoods up and their masks over their faces.”

The witness saw the couple jump into a Hyundai parked behind Hong’s Kitchen, Chartrand said. “The vehicle had an O’Regans plate on the rear and the rear windows were very dark.”

He turned right onto Old Sackville Road before the witness lost sight of the car.

In addition to the gold in the safe, the thieves recovered jewelry from Chater’s glass counter, which they had smashed.

They stole $30,000 worth of jewelry

“The estimated value of the items they stole was $30,000,” the constable said.

Police thought the two jewelry break-ins might be linked as the getaway car appeared to match the description of one seen near Quinpool earlier today. Two officers pulled up along Highway 102 at the Kearney Lake on-ramp and spotted a dark blue Hyundai with tinted windows and an O’Regan plate on the back driving by at 12:31 p.m.

The police followed the car to Bayers Road. As they passed Romans Avenue, they turned on their hazard lights and sirens, but the Hyundai continued to move forward.

“The vehicle took a sharp right turn and parked towards the Halifax Mall, where it immediately came to a stop,” Chartrand said.

Three men got out of the car and ran towards the mall.

The police chased them on foot to the second floor of the parking lot.

“The three men jumped off the edge of the parking lot which was about 18 feet,” Chartrand said.

People stand outside the Halifax Mall after police say they are investigating a call to arms in the area.  -Tim Krochak
People stand outside the Halifax Mall after police say they are investigating a call to arms in the area. -Tim Krochak

Police found Grantmyre ‘on the ground to the side with what appeared to be a leg injury’, the constable said, noting that police found ‘a large amount of gold jewellery’ in his left trouser pocket .

A nearby woman told police the other two men entered the outdoor store dubbed Atmosphere, so cops locked down the mall.

An Atmosphere staff member and a bystander told police they saw a young man “without a mask, only one shoe and (who) appeared to be out of breath,” Chartrand said, noting that the suspect was ” turned around and walked the other way when police entered the store.

They quickly arrested the man, identified as Johnson, wearing only his right shoe. “He was still wearing the Puma underwear as seen in Ash Jeweler surveillance footage.”

After reviewing Atmosphere’s surveillance video, police found a black duffel bag in a rack of gray Columbia jackets near the front door. Inside they discovered clothing, sneakers, a “large amount of jewelry”, three cell phones and a pill bottle with Grantmyre’s name on it.

Investigators interviewed Johnson and Grantmyre. “Both did not provide any details regarding the events,” Chartrand said.

Jewelry, gloves and masks found at Hyundai

The police seized the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the constable requested a warrant to search the car.

They found gloves on the driver’s floor and in the back of the Hyundai, a face mask, a ring and earring under the front passenger seat, and a necklace and bracelet in a bag.

Police have obtained a Canada-wide warrant for the third man charged with the jewelry robberies. Late last month they arrested Jamar Lakwame Carvery, now 24, after a brief chase in Dartmouth.

The three men are behind bars.

Carvery faces a slew of charges related to the March 1 jewelry burglaries, including robbery, obstructing a peace officer, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement, fleeing police, carrying a concealed weapon, reckless use of a gun, as well as pointing a , and masking their face when committing a criminal act.

Court appearances pending

Carvery – who has four previous convictions for assaulting peace officers – is due to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Friday for election and plea.

Johnson and Grantmyre, who face similar charges for the armed robberies, are due to appear June 24 in Halifax Provincial Court for election and plea.

Johnson has previous convictions for mischief and resisting a peace officer.

Grantmyre, now 27, is due to stand trial next October in November 2020 for possession for the purpose of trafficking, reckless use of a firearm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

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