Caitlin Thompson Viviane Garcia stands in her office

Caitlin Thompson Viviane Garcia stands in her office

Suspect arrested and charged after Bella Coola home invasion

Local woman recounts terrifying ordeal during armed robbery home invasion on Sawmill Road in Bella Coola.

Staff Writer

Coast Mountain News

A brazen armed robbery that ended in a police chase through town on Saturday, September 27 has resulted in charges against a local resident.

Nathan Duperron, 41, is facing 13 charges including home invasion, robbery, uttering threats and several other firearms related offences. He has been remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in Vancouver Provincial Court on Thursday October 2, 2014 at 9:30am.

The scenario began the preceding Friday evening, when Viviane Garcia noticed Duperron’s beige mini-van parked near the cemetery on Sawmill Road, where she lives and manages the Bella Coola Mini-Storage with her husband, Roger Bigras. She said she didn’t think much of it at the time, and wasn’t concerned the following day when Duperron spent the majority of his time in his storage unit at the facility.

“On Saturday he parked his car in front of his storage unit all day,” said Garcia. “Later in the day I was making my supper when I heard a huge voice. I didn’t understand at first, I thought someone was playing.”

Garcia looked down the hall and found herself staring into the barrel of Duperron’s sawed off shotgun, who was now standing in her office. He screamed at her to come down the hall, threatening to kill her mastiff, Daisy, if she didn’t stop barking. Meanwhile Garcia’s husband, witnessing what was happening, slipped out the front door to get help from the neighbour.

Once Duperron noticed that Garcia’s husband was gone he became enraged. “That was when he got so, so angry,” Garcia recalls. “He started screaming, saying he was going to count to five and if Roger didn’t come back he was going to kill me.”

Duperron starting counting and Garcia, sensing an opportunity, began talking with him, explaining that her husband was ill and that he didn’t need him anyways.

“I told him about my husband’s injury and that he’s sick, don’t worry about him, I’m here,” Garcia said. “I started asking him what he wanted, why he was doing this, and then he forgot about counting.”

Duperron started demanding money, threatening repeatedly to kill her, all the while holding the shotgun just inches from her chest. Garcia gave him all she had, about three hundred dollars, but he would not give up, yelling profanities at her and demanding that she give him more money.

Duperron locked them in the office and rifled through personal wallets, accusing her of lying. “He kept saying, ‘I want money, I’m telling you I want money,’” Garcia said. She tried to placate him, telling him she had given him everything she had.

Convinced he was under the influence of drugs, Garcia remained calm. She reminded him of the time she had helped him at the storage unit in the past and kept trying to soothe the situation. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, he was acting crazy,” she said. “He kept saying ‘shut up or I’m gonna kill you.’”

Duperron decided that he was going to leave in her vehicle and he demanded she go with him. “He walked backwards the whole time with the gun pointing at me. He grabbed his laptop and his gun case and a machete,” said Garcia. “He had the gun against me the whole time. It was the longest time I ever experienced in my whole life. Terrifying.”

Once outside, Garica managed to convince him that he’d be better off without her. “I told him go, go, get in my car and go,” she said. Duperron took the bait, demanding she stay in plain view with her hands in the air while he took her vehicle and fled the scene.

Within moments Garcia was on the phone with the police, who were already enroute having received the call from her husband. Her 30-year old son, who had ironically been the victim of an armed robbery in his home country of Brazil three months earlier, was trapped in another room the entire time listening to the entire scenario play out. By the time he got out the police had arrived.

Duperron took Garcia’s vehicle, first heading east and then reversing and heading west. He apparently stopped for a drink at the bar in Bella Coola, where the staff sensed something was wrong and called the police.

Additional RCMP resources were called in from Bella Bella, Williams Lake, Kamloops and Anahim Lake. Duperron was located a short time after the incident hiding out at the local harbor. When he tried to flee, a police spike belt was deployed. Once the vehicle stopped he surrendered to police without incident.

Garcia is now resting at home and recovering from her ordeal. While she says she has always felt safe in Bella Coola, she is now reviewing the security at the business. “I was scared to die that day, the money is nothing,” she said. “I don’t care about material things, I care about my family, my life.”