Williams Lake grandfather stops bank robbery in progress

Stopping a bank robbery was “the right thing to do.”

Bill Drebit has always wondered what he would do in an emergency.

Now he knows.

Drebit wrestled a suspected bank robber to the ground as he was attempting to rob the CIBC in Williams Lake on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at around 4:19 p.m.

The robbery was the second at the bank in as many weeks.

“I grabbed him and kind of led him to the floor and another man was good enough to come and grab hold of him too and we just held him on the floor until the police arrived,” Drebit said Thursday, noting he doesn’t know the name of the other gentleman who helped but learned he was from Anahim Lake. “It’s a good thing he was there because I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold him by myself.”

Drebit said he was just finishing up his transaction with a teller, when the suspect, who had disguised his face with a scarf, budged through and told the teller to hand over all her money.

“He had just robbed the teller next to her,” he said.

When asked if he acted on instinct by confronting the robber, Drebit chuckled and said he did not really know.

“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It’s really not a big deal.”

Officer in Charge of the Williams Lake RCMP, Insp. Jeff Pelley, said due to the immediate assistance of the two “astute” customers and a timely response by the RCMP, the man was arrested and taken into custody without incident and that none of the CIBC employees were harmed.

Read more: Police rush to second Williams Lake bank robbery in as many weeks

On Wednesday, one charge of robbery and another of wearing a disguise with intent to commit an offence were sworn against Christopher Michael Swain of 100 Mile House, in Williams Lake.

Swain will remain in custody until his next court appearance scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.

For Drebit, Tuesday’s robbery attempt was the first time he had ever witnessed a crime.

He said it was terrible to see someone trying to rob the CIBC again.

Drebit was referring to the armed robbery that took place there on Nov. 17 when a man wearing a bright red wig and sunglasses entered the bank, indicated he had a gun, and left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Read more: Williams Lake RCMP searching for armed robbery suspect

Drebit is a millwright and has worked at Tolko’s Soda Creek Sawmill for 47 years.

He has been married for 46 years to his wife, Lorna, and together they have four children.

Their daughter Nancy Hadden lives in Williams Lake and told the Tribune when she learned her dad had helped stop the robbery she was really surprised, and also proud.

“He phoned me and told me ‘I just stopped a bank robbery’, and I thought in my head, ‘you mean you were in the bank and it got robbed,’” Hadden said.

“When I realized what he meant, I didn’t really know what to say. Then I told him, ‘well mom’s got something to put in the Christmas newsletter now.’”

Read more: Charges laid against CIBC bank robbery suspect

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