PETERBOROUGH - Former junior hockey star Daniel Ryder has been charged with armed robbery, and residents in his hometown of Bonavista, N.L., are wondering what happened to the talented hockey player.
"Everyone's shocked and amazed," said Basil Durdle, owner of the Bonavista convenience store that was robbed Tuesday night.
The robber didn't ask for cash and only took cigarettes, he said.
Ryder, 22, was charged Wednesday with robbery, using a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence, using a firearm in the commission of an offence and theft.
Ryder played with the Ontario Hockey League's Peterborough Petes from 2003 to 2007. He was the team's leading scorer for three years and received the Wayne Gretzky "99" Award during the 2006 OHL playoffs.
The Calgary Flames drafted him in 2005.
"We're asking ourselves, what happened to him?" Durdle said.
Police said a man walked into Durdle¹s Red Circle Convenience Store at about 9:48 p.m. Tuesday.
A black scarf partially covered his face, police said, and he was wearing several layers of clothing, including a grey hooded sweater and a blue Ultramar jacket.
Police said he was carrying a white shopping bag with BENTLY written across the front of it and told the lone female clerk he had a gun.
Police asked the public to help identify the perpetrator. Ryder turned himself in Wednesday without incident, police said.
Ryder appeared in a Clarenville, Newfoundland court Thursday morning and was held for a further seven days to undergo a psychiatric assessment. He appears in court again Jan. 14.
RCMP media officer Sgt. Wayne Newell said police are still trying to determine if the robber actually had a gun.
Newell said he couldn't elaborate on Ryder's previous history with the police, but the 22-year-old was known to them.
"I can only give you the standard line, and that he¹s known to the RCMP in Bonavista," Newell said. "Our members are familiar with him." Durdle said Ryder was in the store about an hour before the robbery, filling out a Pro-Line lottery ticket.
"He comes into the store often. He¹s a customer," Durdle said.
Durdle asked Ryder if he was planning on watching a hockey game that night.
Durdle said he's not sure if Ryder replied or not. He's normally very quiet, Durdle said, and keeps to himself a lot of the time.
"He's quiet anyway," Durdle said. "Daniel is very, very reclusive." Durdle said the clerk was mopping the floor on the other side of the store that night when she heard a noise near the front of the store.
"She walked around and saw someone on the other side of the counter," Durdle said.
The man had his back to her and was standing near the cigarette display, Durdle said, and the girl first thought one of her friends was playing a joke on her.
Then he turned and she saw that his face was covered, he said.
"He said, 'I got a gun, I got a gun,'" Durdle said, adding that the clerk didn't see a gun.
The robber didn't ask for any cash, he said, or tell her to open the till.
"He didn't ask for anything."
He took 40 to 50 packages of cigarettes, he said, and dropped them into a bag.
"Then he went on."
Durdle said armed robberies aren't common in Bonavista, so the crime came as a shock to residents.
People were further shocked when they found out Ryder was charged with the incident, he said.
He counts Ryder as a friend, he said, and it's upsetting to think that a customer and friend could do this.
He doesn't know what could have motivated the crime, he said, though something must have happened to the hockey player who showed so much talent.
Ryder is the younger brother of NHL player Michael Ryder, who plays for the Boston Bruins.