It is the type of crime typically reserved for Hollywood, where a group of bandits brazenly storm a business and violently take it over.
But there was nothing fake about Sunday afternoon’s ordeal inside Shoppers Drug Mart at Unicity. And now police admit they’re desperate to catch the armed suspects before they strike again.
"We’ll work quickly with all the resources we do have. We know these kinds of circumstances can be tragic and really don’t know the intentions of these suspects if confronted," Winnipeg police Const. Natalie Aitken said Monday.
"I can’t speculate that there will be another one, but we’re obviously aware of that potential."
It was just after 5 p.m. when two men -- both wearing balaclavas to conceal their identities - ran inside the store at 3665 Portage Ave. At least a half-dozen employees, plus a handful of customers, were inside the business at the time.
Everyone was ordered to the floor by one of the gun-toting robbers, while the other attended to the pharmacy area, demanded the opening of a locked cabinet or safe and then stole a large amount of prescription narcotics.
The pair then fled the scene. It’s not known if they were on foot or had a vehicle or accomplice waiting outside.
Police were quick to credit all of the victims with keeping their cool, saying bad things usually result when somebody tries to play the role of "hero" by thinking they can overpower criminals.
"We always encourage people to comply with demands of the suspects," said Aitken. "We’re very thankful there were no injuries."
Police haven’t released a list of all the stolen drugs but admit they are concerned.
Attack style rare in Winnipeg
While armed robberies are nothing new for Winnipeg, this style of attack is. The vast majority of hold-ups happen under the cover of darkness, often target lone employees, and are designed to be as low-key as possible. As well, the offenders are usually acting impulsively, often looking for some quick cash to feed a drug addiction.
This crime would seem to be much more planned and premeditated. And the fact the accused struck in broad daylight, in a high-traffic area, also triggers alarm bells.
"It’s not the typical time we do see incidents like this," said Aitken. Police are also reviewing surveillance tapes in the area, hoping they may provide additional clues.
One suspect is a approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 220 pounds. He was wearing a grey hoodie, black balaclava and dark track pants. The other is 6’2" tall, 170 pounds with a fair complexion, blonde or light reddish hair, wearing dark shorts with black shoes and a bandana pulled up to his nose.
Investigators with the major crimes unit are asking anyone with information to call them at 204-986-6219 or through Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).