One person is in custody after an armed robbery involving sledge hammers sent shoppers scrambling at CF Markville Mall in Markham Sunday evening.

York Regional Police said they received a call about an armed robbery in the area of the mall at around 6:25 p.m.

“Several of these suspects entered the Lukfook jewelry store. They were armed with sledge hammers. It looks like they smashed through some of the glass cases of this jewelry store and then attempted to escape,” Sgt. Clint Whitney told CP24.

Multiple people reported hearing shots fired in the mall. Video circulating on social media shows several men in orange vests and masks grabbing items from the Lukfook jewelry store and shoving them into large bags.

The video appears to be consistent with information gathered by officers at the scene, Whitney told CP24.  However police have not confirmed that shots were fired inside the mall.

A ‘chaotic’ scene

The loud and brazen armed robbery took place while the busy mall was still open and sent panicked shoppers fleeing.

“It was open and it was a busy place. There were a lot of pedestrians, a lot of traffic in that area and it was a little bit chaotic to say the least,” Whitney said.

Reports on social media indicate that a number of store clerks closed their gates and sheltered some people inside their stores as shoppers fled. Some people said they were told to evacuate the premises following the robbery.

Police said no lockdown order was issued for the mall.

Bystander aids in arrest

One suspect who fled the scene on foot was arrested outside of mall property just five minutes after officers were called. Dramatic video of the arrest captured by a bystander and shared online shows an officer wrestling the suspect to the ground and taking him into custody at gunpoint.

Whitney said the quick arrest was aided by the intervention of a bystander who slowed down the suspect.

“An officer was able to encounter one of the suspects who had been slowed down from his escape by a citizen who actually intervened and tried to help and got into a bit of a scuffle with a suspect who was fleeing,” Whitney said.  

The bystander who struggled with the suspect didn’t want to be identified, but told CP24 what happened when he encountered the man running away.  

“When I reached for him, I grabbed the vest. He was able to pull out of it. I had the vest in my hand. I threw it down and then reached for him again, grabbed him by the sweater and was able to tackle him down and get him into a chokehold,” the man said.

“That’s when a couple of his buddies came over. One sucker punched me and one kicked me in the ribs. That’s how the guy got away, but I guess I slowed him down enough for the officer to arrest him.”

Investigators are now looking for as many as five other suspects. No suspect descriptions have been released so far.

Whitney said the value of the stolen goods has not yet been tallied.

He said police are asking any potential witnesses or anyone with video of the incident to contact investigators.