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Premier never in danger: Police

Vancouver Police say Premier Gordon Campbell was never in danger as a result of a nearby jewelry store heist, despite the dramatic headline atop this morning's edition of The Vancouver Sun.

Campbell was rushed from a hotel restaurant after his security detail observed a woman run by with a gun. Police said the 25-year-old woman, who is now in custody, had just robbed the Monte Cristo jewelry store on West Hastings Street.

"The Premier just happened to be in the area, about to conduct and interview with a member of the press," VPD Constable Lindsey Houghton told a morning press briefing. "I understand that he was inside one of the buildings and she was running past."

"Was the Premier ever in danger?" a reporter asked.

"No," Constable Houghton replied.

"There was some confusion initially because of where the woman was running. It does not appear that she knew the Premier was anywhere in the vicinity," Houghton continued.

The VPD spokesman said he did not know whether or not the woman was ever visible from where Campbell was seated. He refused to comment on whether or not the gun was real or loaded.

The Vancouver Police painted a somewhat different picture of yesterday's events than that presented under the front-page headline, "Gun scare forces Campbell to flee," in in this morning's edition of The Vancouver Sun, which began like this:

Premier Gordon Campbell got a jarring and up-close taste of Vancouver’s urban crime wave Monday when a woman with a gun ran by the luxury downtown hotel he was in and leaped into a cab at the hotel’s front door.

“Get up, get up,” Campbell’s RCMP bodyguard yelled, minutes after the premier had began a sit-down interview with Vancouver Sun columnist Miro Cernetig in the hotel’s restaurant after 4:30 p.m. The premier looked up, surprised. His bodyguard crouched low and moved toward his table.

When Campbell only glanced around the empty room, the constable spoke louder and pointed to an empty private dining room metres away.

“Go in here, go in here,” he ordered.

The premier hesitated a few more seconds. “There’s a man with a gun,” said the bodyguard. That got his attention.

VPD Constable Houghton described the incident this way:

"Yesterday afternoon at about 4:36 p.m., a man and woman entered the Monte Cristo jewelry story in the 800 block of West Hastings street. Shortly after entering a woman pulled a handgun and demanded that staff place merchandise in a bag that her accomplice was holding.

"There was one customer in the store at the time. And neither the customer nor any of the staff were injured in any way.

"The man ran from the store in an unknown direction with a significant quantity of merchandise.

"The woman then ran towards the Waterfront Station, where she got into a taxi, pulled out the gun, and demanded that the taxi driver drive."

Constable Houghton said a member of the Premier's RCMP protective services detail phoned 911 and provided a description of the woman.

"One of the Premier's security detail was outside, saw what was unfolding, made some observations, and he along with other witnesses in the area contacted police," he said.

"Based on their very accurate and timely information and descriptions, we were able to get our officers there very quickly and arrest the woman at Thurlow and Cordova as she was exiting the taxicab."

Vancouver Police are still looking for and welcome information about the male suspect. Houghton described him this way: "He is an aboriginal male in his twenties. He is approximately 5'9" to 6' tall, with a slim build. He has dyed, short orange and red hair with brown patches. He was wearing a dark, long-sleeved dress shirt with dark stripes, black pants and black dress shoes."

The Monte Cristo robbery is the ninth jewelry store heist this year, Houghton said; four had been committed by this time last year.

"You see a very small number if individuals committing a bulk of these types of incidents," he added. "We do see a lot of repeat offenders."

Monte Paulsen reports for The

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