April 30, 2009 in City

Bystander helps nab pharmacy robbery suspect

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A north Spokane woman with a hankering for candy and Nicorette gum is being credited by Spokane police with stopping an armed robber Wednesday morning.

Good Samaritan Shelley Anderson, 41, was parking her 1999 Crown Victoria about 8:20 a.m. when she saw a young man running from the Rite Aid at the Franklin Park Mall.

Then, she spotted a store clerk chasing after him and “it wasn’t much of a deduction from there. They’d been robbed,” she said.

So she drove after the suspect, staying on the phone with 911 as she tracked him past the North Division Street mall and into an apartment building.

“I said ‘I know which one he went in,’” Anderson said. “I’m sitting right in front of it.”

Police arrested Jeremy M. Mace, 22, and jailed him on a first-degree robbery charge.

He’s accused of threatening an employee with a knife before stealing bottles of methadone.

He made a preliminary appearance Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court and is being held in Spokane County Jail.

Anderson was “instrumental” in Mace’s arrest, said Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Police can’t arrive at a crime scene instantly, and “it would have been difficult for us track (the robber),” DeRuwe said.

It’s the second time in as many weeks that a quick-thinking Spokane resident has helped nab a crime suspect police say might have otherwise gotten away. In both cases, authorities note that the bystanders exercised appropriate caution, recognized their own limits and let trained officers handle the actual police work.

Last Friday, for example, Frank D. Baxter, 37, was arrested for trying to steal items from the garage of retired Spokane TV news anchor Bob Briley, 85, and his wife, Doris, after a neighbor saw him and called 911.

Ronald Warner, 53, held Baxter at gunpoint outside the home in the 2600 block of Lidgerwood until police arrived.

Police don’t want citizens putting themselves in danger, but officers praised both Warner and Anderson for calling authorities and showing proper restraint.

In Wednesday’s case, Anderson stayed in her car, kept her distance and called 911, DeRuwe said.

“As a street cop, I’m looking at it as ‘it’s great they’re out there helping us,’” DeRuwe said.

Anderson said she was doing what she’s taught her three sons: don’t just stand by, help out.

“I’m not the type to bury my head in the sand,” she said.

Anderson bought her candy and gum later that day, but she went to Wal-Mart.

Meghann M. Cunifff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com

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