A Nanaimo man is paying the price for a crime he did not commit.
Randon Lloyd Broostrom, 26, was named by Nanaimo RCMP as the suspect of an attempted robbery at the B.C. Lottery ticket booth in Country Club Centre Oct. 3.
In that incident a masked man bear-sprayed the clerk and several other people who tried to stop him.
Broostrom was arrested for the crime, interrogated by police for four days and charged with robbery and six counts of assault with a weapon, but was released just as he was about to make his first appearance in court.
It was the end of what Broostrom describes as a terrifying four days, but has since lost his job, his home and is being shunned by potential employers and landlords.
"I didn't do a darn thing," Broostrom said. "I was at home with my kid."
The day of the robbery, Broostrom was at home with his three-year-old son, who had an in-home appointment with a speech therapist that day.
Several days later he received a message on Facebook that police were looking for him at his former address. Assuming it was a family emergency, he went to a nearby pay phone to call his parents. There was no answer so he walked home where police waiting and told him he was under arrest for robbery.
"It blew my freaking mind," Broostrom said.
Broostrom was staying at the home of his girlfriend who is also the mother of his child. Her landlord has not allowed him back on the property.
Broostrom worked as a tile setter, but has not been called back to work.
"People actually called my boss and asked if that was the guy that was in [their] house," he said.
He also has not managed to find a new place to rent.
"Landlords see my name – it's not that common of a name – so, it's been rough," Broostrom said.
Broostrom admits he has had minor run-ins with the law, but was never involved with any form of serious crime and has no criminal record.
"I've never been in a courtroom," he said. "That was the closest and it scared the living hell out of me. I don't need a criminal record and I thought I was going away for something someone else did. Yeah, I was mighty scared."
Const. Gary O'Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said Crown counsel reviewed the evidence for the first time just before Broostrom was to appear in court and dropped all charges.
O'Brien also confirmed Broostrom is no longer a suspect.
"Mr. Broostrom is unequivocally no longer involved in this file in any way," he said.
O'Brien would not comment further on the investigation, which is still active.
Broostrom now has to put his life back together. He needs a place to live and steady work. He also wants to know who he spent four days in jail for.
"I really hope they get him and he gets what's coming to him," Broostrom said.
The investigation into the robbery and a similar one at Nanaimo North Town Centre Nov. 1 are ongoing.
Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.