Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff Larry Novak tackled one of the suspects.

Update: “Old-school” biker tackles robbery suspect before being pepper sprayed

A store in Red Deer’s Parkland Mall was robbed early Friday morning

Several people were pepper sprayed after three men robbed a Parkland Mall store shortly before 10 a.m. this morning.

One of those victims was Larry Novak, who took a blast of pepper spray and a kick to the head after tackling one of the robbers as he fled from the Best Buy store.

“They messed with the wrong guy. I’m an old-school biker,” said Novak, 68.

“I was in Bentley buying a couple of fanny packs when I heard the alarm go off,” he said. “I looked over at Best Buy and there were three skinny black guys all dressed in black.

After tearing three cellphones from a display the culprits took off running with two heading Novak’s way.

“I went out in the middle of the hallway. I had one of the guys stopped.

“I said, ‘Bring it buddy. Bring it.’”

The man tried to get past him but Novak, who stands over 1.91 m (six-foot-three) and 100 kg (220 pounds), got hold of him.

“I grabbed him and threw him down on the floor. Then the other guy came back and he kicked me in the head.”

During the scuffle Novak was pepper sprayed. A woman who worked at Bentley, who came out to help him, also got blasted.

Police and EMS were on scene quickly. Novak said a Best Buy employee gave him a bottle of water to rinse out his eyes, which were still red from the spray an hour later.

Asked why he got involved, Novak said, “I don’t know. It happened and I got there.

“I was just trying to be a good citizen.”

Despite stinging eyes — and he suspects some bruised ribs from throwing the suspect down — Novak has no regrets.

“Absolutely none.

“The only thing I regret is the whole court system in Canada has to be changed.”

Convicted criminals get off too easy and those who come to Canada from another country and commit crimes should be sent back, he said.

A passerby also stopped to share her anger at the lenient sentences convicted criminals get and how soon they are back on the street.

A man who works in a nearby kiosk said the robbery and violent aftermath show why it’s best for employees to stay safe.

“It’s a prime example of why companies have a policy not to be a hero and have insurance on their products,” he said.

“Be lucky it was only bear spray or mace. It could have been 10 times worse — then what?”

Red Deer RCMP described the suspects as three black men wearing black hoodies, believed to be in their mid-twenties. One wore a blue bandana.

They fled the mall through the east exit after shoving a security guard who attempted to stop them.

Police said a number of people were affected by the pepper spray which induces coughing and discomfort but no lasting injuries. No other injuries were reported during the robbery.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575. To remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or report it online at If information leads to an arrest there could be a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Just Posted

Coat, cash donations accepted on the side of the road in Red Deer

Fifth annual Coats for Kids and CACPC Charity Checkstop held Saturday afternoon on Taylor Drive

UPDATE: Red Deer RCMP locate missing 64-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP have located a 64-year-old woman, who was reported missing,… Continue reading

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

RDC Kings draw, Queens soccer fall to Kodiaks

The RDC Kings moved one step closer to securing an Alberta Colleges… Continue reading

Scheer won’t say if Conservatives hired consultant to ‘destroy’ People’s party

TORONTO — With election day less than 48 hours away, Andrew Scheer… Continue reading

Man’s death in Richmond, B.C. suspicious, not random, say investigators

RICHMOND, B.C. — The discovery of a man’s body in a Richmond,… Continue reading

Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder… Continue reading

Mexico says Trump shows ‘solidarity’ after suspect freed

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday he… Continue reading

‘I am back,’ Bernie Sanders tells supporters at NYC rally

NEW YORK — Storming past questions about his health, Bernie Sanders vowed… Continue reading

Most Read