Grandfather fights off gun-toting robbers in Toronto

A Toronto store owner confronted two would-be armed robbers, wrestling a gun away from one of them.

Security video captures fracas as wife uses clothing rack to ram one suspect

Fighting back

10 years ago
Duration 2:33
Store owner fights off armed robbers.

A Toronto silk store owner and his wife managed to fight off a pair of would-be robbers in a dramatic struggle captured on the store’s security camera.

Grandfather Premanathan Kanapathipallai stopped the two men Tuesday with the help of his wife, who at one point rammed a clothing rack into the back of one of the men. The two men now are both facing robbery and gun charges.

"I thought, oh, he’s going to try to kill me," Premanathan Kanapathipallai told CBC’s Jeff Semple on Wednesday. Kanapathipallai's wife didn't want to speak on camera.

The fracas began when two men, one armed with a gun, barged into the Rashi Silks store that Kanapathipallai and his wife own on Eglinton Avenue East near Brimley Road in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

One of the men brandished a handgun and demanded cash.

Kanapathipallai’s wife then ran for the exit, causing one of the men to follow her. Kanapathipallai, meanwhile, ended up wrestling on the floor with the other man.

"I grabbed the hand, and rolling and rolling and fighting with the person," he told CBC News.

With one of the suspects on top of Kanapathipallai and throwing punches, his wife charged back into the store and rammed a rack of clothing into the back of the man on top of her husband.

Kanapathipallai managed to get the gun away from one of the suspects, who fought to get it back. In the struggle, a shot was fired. Kanapathipallai then threw the gun toward the front of the store. Next he charged after the gun, recovered it and threw it away a second time, tossing it out the front door.

At that point, the two would-be robbers fled.

Kanapathipallai told CBC News he’s thankful to have only suffered a cut to his head in the fracas. He also said he's never been in a fight before.

"It is exciting, you know," he said. "It is the first time."

He told CBC News his four-year-old grandson was impressed by his fighting skills.

Police arrested both suspects a few blocks away from the store. The two 17-year-olds face a number of charges, including attempted robbery and possession of a dangerous weapon.

They cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Police say they don’t advise other merchants to follow Kanapathipallai’s example if they find themselves in the middle of an armed robbery.

"It’s unbelievable … someone of his age, wrestling a gun off a 17-year-old boy," said Toronto Police spokesman Tony Vella. "It could have very much ended differently."