When two masked men stormed into Danielle’s Silver and Gold in Sahali Mall on Tuesday and began smashing the display cases with a wrench and ratchet, you can bet owner Rick Niles and wife Nikki were terrified.
“We started screaming,” Niles said. “They keep smashing, grabbing.”
Hearing about the robbery rocketed me back 24 years, to a crime I covered as a fledgling reporter, a jewelry heist that had a much more lethal outcome.
Interestingly, that armed robbery in Mission on Dec. 1, 1994, has a belated Kamloops connection in that one of the two bandits, now living here, caught a break in court three years ago after being caught driving while prohibited.
On that winter day in the year grunge ruled, the Kamloops Blazers won the Memorial Cup and O.J. Simpson took the world on a slow-motion chase down an L.A. freeway, two men walked into Gold ’N Things jewelry store in Mission and forever changed the lives of two families and all who knew them.
Ronnie James Woods and Ian Mooring were no strangers to crime and were looking for a quick score.
They entered the store in the Mission Oaks Mall and, in quick succession, owners Roger Kimberley and Pierre Choquette were gunned down. Kimberley was killed and Choquette lost an arm.
The two proprietors did not resist during the robbery. They did not try to fight the robbers.
They happened to just be there as Woods and Mooring decided time was of the essence and used a shotgun as part of the heist.
The tragedy was, of course, major news, and contacting those connected to the victims was a challenging and emotionally difficult job.
The violence and carnage of that robbery has stayed with me as I went on to cover many other crime stories, some more gruesome than others.
Always in the back of my mind when reporting on, or reading of, a robbery of a business is that horrible heist in Mission back in 1994.
A man lost his life. His business partner lost his arm.
And the trauma from that incident continues to follow the survivor and the families and friends of both men.
That people can be so callous, so indiscriminate in deciding to end a life in the pursuit of money is always shocking.
That is never seems to end is depressing.
Less than a decade after the robbery and murder, one of the culprits, Woods, begged for his parole eligibility to be shortened because he as dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Showing compassion toward him that Woods could not extend toward Kimberley and Choquette, the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2003 decided to allow Woods to apply for parole after nine years in prison, as opposed to the minimum 15 years that was part of his original sentence.
I lost track of Woods after that and presume he succumbed to his disease.
His partner in crime on Dec. 1, 1994, Mooring, surprisingly appeared in the pages of Kamloops This Week in 2015.
On parole for life, Mooring was stopped in a road block and lost his licence for 90 days. Because of his parole status, he spent a month in prison.
He was then caught driving within that 90-day span and again spent 30 days in jail.
The shattering of the glass in Danielle’s Silver and Gold in no way compares to the shotgun explosion heard in Mission nearly a quarter-century ago, but both illustrate how the utter disregard for fellow human beings remains a blight with which we must always deal.