Man sprayed in the face during daylight robbery at Portage Avenue ATM

By | August 14, 2019

A Winnipeg man who was blasted in the face with what he believes was bear spray is still recovering four days after the daylight attack and robbery at a Portage Avenue ATM.

Skelley Blackley was on foot Friday afternoon when he decided to use the outdoor, drive-through ATM at the TD Canada Trust branch at 905 Portage Ave. He says he was midway through his transaction when a man stepped out and attacked him.

“I started my transaction, I heard a noise, looked over there and he had just come out from behind the ATM. I smiled and then I looked back at the screen and was immediately was hit with a cloud of what was probably bear spray,” he said.

Unsure of what he had been doused with, Blackley ran into De Luca’s Fine Wines nearby as he began to lose vision and the burning around his eyes intensified.

“I looked back briefly and saw him sort of crouching down to take the cash and my card out of the ATM,” said Blackley, who spoke with CBC News on Tuesday. The area around his eyes were still red and his eyes were sensitive from the sun.

He said the robber got away with $140, was fairly insignificant compared to his well-being. The bank has since reimbursed him for the lost funds.

Blackley was surprised by the attack, given the fact the area is quite public, often frequented and had been his go-to ATM for six years.

“My guard was not up … the incident was shocking, it was shocking to have happened to me.”

TD Canada Trust has refunded the money that was stolen from Skelley Blackley in the robbery. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

He said with the help of the employees at De Luca’s, he immediately called Winnipeg police, who came seven hours later to see him and take his statement.

Blackley said police told him they have turned the investigation over to the Major Crimes Unit. The Winnipeg Police Service could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

At the time of the robbery, Blackley said he felt some anger toward his attacker, but has since focused his energy on getting better and warning others.

“I wouldn’t do this to the person who attacked me, I wouldn’t want anyone to feel that pain,” he said. “I just think that person is a poor unfortunate soul, I think his life sucks a lot more than mine and I hope he gets help.”

Skelley Blackley at the site where he was sprayed in the face and robbed while making a transaction. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Blackley is hoping to move on from the incident, and while he wants people to be more aware of their surroundings, he doesn’t want to let fear rule the day.

“[People should] be as vigilant as [they] reasonably can be, and to remember things like this happen, but we shouldn’t turn into a paranoid city. We’ve lived with risk for a long time,” he said.