Toronto police make several arrests, search for man following million-dollar robbery | CBC News

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Toronto police have made several arrests and have issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a 22-year-old man following a “violent” million-dollar robbery in April.

The robbery investigation — dubbed Project Heavy Bag — was launched this April, Insp. Richard Harris said at a Tuesday news conference. In addition to the arrest of seven people (three men and four women) plus a warrant for a fourth man, the investigation has also led to the seizure of several firearms and the recovery of $160,000.

Harris, the unit commander of the police’s holdup squad, said the robbery took place at a business that refills privately-owned ATM machines. 

The suspects, he said, were able to “make their way into the cash vault and managed to obtain quite a bit of money. In excess of a million dollars was stolen during the course of this robbery.”


Harris called it a “violent robbery.”

Unit Commander of the Hold Up Squad, Ag. Insp. Richard Harris said: “‘A violent robbery took place at a retail establishment that is used for refilling privately owned ATM machines.’ (CBC)

Police said the two men assaulted two employees and forced them to open the safes before ordering the victims to the ground.

The two men then loaded garbage bags with money before racing to a getaway vehicle, Harris said, as he explained the name Project Heavy Bag.

$160K recovered during attempted home invasion

It is further alleged that on Monday, May 17, an attempted home invasion took place in the Kipling Avenue and Steeles Avenue area. One of the persons arrested in connection with the ATM robbery resides at this address, Harris said.

Police said a sum of money, identified to have been obtained during the robbery on April 1, was found within the unit.

“While police were checking on the wellbeing of the occupants, they recovered approximately $160,000 that was later determined to be stolen during the course of the robbery,” Harris said. 

As a result of the investigation, members of the Toronto Police Hold Up Squad were able to identify four suspects involved in the robbery on April 1.

On Thursday, Sept. 9, a 23-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, both of Toronto, were located and arrested. A fully-loaded handgun and a quantity of ammunition were seized from their vehicle, Harris said.

They face several charges including:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
  • Robbery with a firearm.
  • Occupy motor vehicle with a firearm.
  • Possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized.
  • Possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition.

Both appeared for a bail hearing on Friday, Sept.10. They are next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 7.

Supt. Michael Barsky said during Tuesday’s news conference that there was “some level of planning involved in the robbery.” 

“It is quite clear and evident that these individuals have a huge and high propensity for violence,” he said.

Further to this investigation, police said that on Thursday, Sept. 9, and Friday, Sept. 10, with the assistance of the Emergency Task Force, 11, 22 and 23 Division Major Crime Units and Forensic Identification Services, members of the Hold Up Squad executed four Criminal Code search warrants at various addresses and on two vehicles.

These weapons were among seven handguns (six Glock pistols and a Luger firearm), high-capacity firearm magazines, numerous rounds of ammunition, body armor, a large quantity of cocaine and cash seized by Toronto police. (CBC)

As a result, clothing, seven additional handguns (six Glock pistols and a Luger firearm), high-capacity firearm magazines, numerous rounds of ammunition, body armour, a large quantity of cocaine and cash were seized.

Police said the following persons have been arrested:

  • A 22-year-old man of Toronto.
  • A 36-year-old man of Caledon, Ont.
  • Two Toronto women, both 26.
  • A 37-year-old woman of Caledon, Ont.

They face numerous charges including:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
  • Possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition.
  • Tampering with serial number.
  • Obstruct peace officer.
  • Possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000.
  • Careless storage ammunition.
  • Possession of a firearm while prohibited C.C. 117.01.

Emmanuel Rawson, 22, of Toronto, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, Toronto police say. (Toronto Police Service)

Wanted: Emmanuel Rawson, 22, of Toronto

Meanwhile, police said Emmanuel Rawson, 22, of Toronto, remains outstanding in connection with the robbery.

He is wanted for robbery with a firearm, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

Rawson is described as 5’7″, 190 lbs., and should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen, do not approach and call 9-1-1.

Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, who also spoke at Tuesday’s news conference, said based on the firearms sezied, “it’s pretty obvious what could happen on the streets with those firearms.”

“To have an investigation that takes this number of firearms off the street that [has] possible saved countless lives,” Taverner said.

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