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Photos show gunpoint 7-Eleven robbery

A reward is being offered for tips that help identify a man who robbed a Spokane convenience store at gunpoint early Saturday.

Surveillance photos released today show the man pointing a gun at a clerk at 7-Eleven, 1425 N. Maple St., about 4:30 a.m.

The robber is described as 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds, and in his late 20s or early 30s.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should lave a code name or number.

2 charged in attempted carjacking

Two suspected car thieves tried to steal a vehicle from a stranger outside a north Spokane restaurant, police say.

 Bennie Lee Carson, 31, and Charles A. Nickens, 27, followed the man north on North Division Street and confronted him when he pulled into the McDonald's parking lot at Division and East Heroy Avenue about 7:15 a.m. on June 27, according to police.

The victim said one of the men reached into his waistband as he approached and made it appear as though he had a firearm. The other man told the victim "he liked his rims and wanted his keys so he could drive his car."

Wright refused and "aggressively walked past" the men and into McDonald's, where he called police. A friend who was to meet the victim at the McDonald's that morning witnessed the incident an through the men were perhaps confronting him over a driving dispute.

The victim's friend is an Avista meter reader who said he considered using his "dog stick" meter reader to stop an assault should it occur, according to court documents.

Police found the car in the Shadle Park Wal-Mart later that day. One of the occupants said she got the car from a man named Bennie, "a car thief who steals and traffics in stolen vehicles," police wrote.

Carson and Nickens were charged last week with second-degree robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle - police say they car they followed the victim in was stolen.

Carson also faces possession of stolen motor vehicle charges for cars found at his home at 2415 E. 1st Ave., where police believes he strips stolen vehicles, in June when police responded to a report that he was assaulting his girlfriend. The home also was the target of a SWAT team heroin bust in March.

Carson was arrested on car theft charges July 1. Nickens also was arrested last month and has been in jail since. Prosecutors filed charges for the attempted robbery on Aug. 2.

Home-invasion robber gets 10 years

A robber who fled a north Spokane home after being struck with a sword has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.

Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, alias Gardner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt to 129 months, according to court records.

McDaniels was arrested in May for a robbery  in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court, as was Nathan W. Day, 21.

Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May. Erik J. Zacher, 26, was arrested in July.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Man arrested for unreported robbery

Another suspect in a home-invasion robbery has been arrested after his alleged accomplice told police about a crime that hadn't been reported.

Travis Heath Bertholf, 40, is accused of robbing an apartment in the 2500 block of East Hartson Avenue with David Fredrick Smith sometime in May.

Spokane County sheriff's Detectives Jack Rosenthal and Mike Ricketts were on a tour of home-invasion robbery sites with Smith after his arrest when Smith directed them to the Hartson location.

They identified the resident, Loyalee Elton, through utility records and contacted her. She told them two men wearing bandannas over their faces robbed her of a backpack containing 200 to 300 watches at gunpoint, according to court documents. Her brother also was held at gunpoint.

One of the men threatened to kill her, Elton said. Smith told police he and Bertholf entered the residence through an open back door. Smith had a 9 mm semi-automatic gun; Bertholf had a .380 semi-automatic, documents say.

Smith admitted to pointing a gun at Elton when she pleaded with him not to take the back, police say.

Bertholf was arrested Thursday about 1:30 p.m. He appeared in court today on charges of first-degree robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. He has 13 felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms, including a drug conviction from last October.

Smith also is in jail. He is charged with a series of home-invasion robberies with suspect Flint Fire Herrmann.

Where’s the heroin? Oops. Wrong house.

Two suspected serial robbers apparently picked the wrong target back in late May, Spokane police say.

Flint Fire Herrmann, 35, and David Fredrick Smith, 41, are charged with first-degree robbery for an invasion May 29 at a home in the 1900 block of West 26th Ave. Already in jail, they appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on the new charges Tuesday.

A victim told police one of the men "was yelling at the other male telling him they had the wrong people and they should leave," according to court documents. The other man tried to steal a portable video game player "only breaking it instead," police wrote

A resident said she awoke about 11:30 p.m. to a masked man standing next to her bed "pointing a large gun in her face." The woman said the man called her "Chandra" and demanded heroin, hen got very upset when she told him he had the wrong person. The woman feared two other men in the home had been killed , and that she was about to be killed, police say.

Two nights later, Herrmann and Smith successfully robbed a home in the 4400 block of East 46th Avenue of drugs and cash. They're also suspected in a robbery that same night at a home on West Spofford Avenue. Smith also is believed to have shot Robert Ruth during a robbery on West Princeton Avenue on May 29. Ruth is accused of helping cop shooter Charles Wallace.

Police arrested Smith in June and searched his home in the 2600 block of West Dell Avenue, where they recovered bandanas, a ski mask, 9 mm gun and a .380 Revolver.

Herrmann was arrested July 16.
  

7-Eleven robbery trio pleads not guilty

Three men accused of robbing a 7-Eleven store at gunpoint have pleaded not guilty.

Joseph Taitano, 20; Aleksandr Ampleyev, 20; and Jorell Jones, 21; got about $300 in cash and coins and a felony charge of first-degree robbery for the incident at 1317 S. Grand Blvd. about 2 a.m. July 15.

A woman who said she was sleeping in their getaway van said the men threw the cash drawer out the window and counted the money while talking about "how awesome" the robbery was, according to court documents.

A Spokane police officer spotted the van at a Cenex Zip Trip gas station at 57th Avenue and Regal Street about 20 minutes after the robbery.

Taitano and Ampleyev are in jail; Jones is out on $25,000 bond.

Suspect arrested in May home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in the Indian Trail area that ended with a resident confronting his attackers with a sword.

Erik J. Zacher, 26, is accused of robbing residents in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in May.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested a day after the robbery. McDaniels still is there; Day is out on $25,000 bond.  Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May and remains in jail.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Zacher is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested Saturday.

McD’s robbery suspect arrested in Calif.

A suspect in a series of armed robberies in Spokane was arrested in California Wednesday - his 26th birthday.

Avery Lee Loring was booked into the Fresno County Jail at 6:23 p.m. on a U.S. Marshals' hold.

He's is believed to be one of four men who robbed the McDonald's at 4647 S. Regal St., on May 25 while six juvenile customers were inside.

Suspects Michael D. Brown, 23; Dwayne J. "DJ" Tolbert, 21; and Brettly Sanderson, 16, have been arrested. They are among several suspects jailed for a series of loosely connected hold ups.

Loring and Tolbert also are accused of robbing the Zip Trip at 2020 W. Francis Ave., at gunpoint on May 31. The robbery netted $14, cigarettes and cigars.

Loring was sentenced to four years in prison in 2006 for a robbery attempt near Gonzaga University. Crime Stoppers had been offering a reward for information that led to Loring's arrest.

A reward still is being offered for tips that help arrest another robbery suspect, Oladejo B. Olajoyegbe, 24.

Another home robbery suspect wanted

A man who was arrested leaving a suspected robber's home with a bag of marijuana is now wanted for a gunpoint home-invasion robbery two days earlier.

Oladejo B. Olajoyegbe, 24 (left), is accused of robbing a home in the 1700 block of East Columbia Avenue July 3 with Derek L. Wilson, 25 (left), and Christopher M. Comer, 24 (right). Wilson and Comer were arrested July 5.

An officer was watching Wilson's home at 2408 E. Francis Ave. as a detective prepared a search warrant when he spotted a man later identified Olajoyegbe, who is Wilson's cousin, knock on the door, then look in basement windows before walking to the side of the house and leaving five minutes later with a large white plastic bag, according to court documents.

Police stopped the car at East Wellesley Avenue and Argonne Road and arrested the driver, Lashanette Beavers, and the passenger, Olajoyegbe.

Olajoyegbe told police his cousin lives at the home and allowed him to take the marijuana, which police say weighed over a pound and consisted of cuttings from marijuana plants.

Olajoyegbe left jail on $5,000 bond for a marijuana charge but is now wanted for first-degree robbery after prosecutors filed charges July 9. He's accused of robbing the East Columbia Avenue home while wearing a mask and brandishing a handgun. A woman and her daughter were ordered to the floor as the home was ransacked.

The robbers stole medical marijuana, a PlayStation 3, and iPad 2 and a cellphone and wallet.

Police believe the robbery was arranged by the girlfriend of Brettly "Nike" Sanderson, who is accused of robberies at McDonald's and at a home on North Hogan Street. The 16-year-old girl knew the younger victim from middle school and was at the home just minutes before the robbery under a ruse of owing her $5.

She told police she arranged the robbery "as a copycat home-invasion robbery to take the suspicion off her boyfriend who is in jail for this kind of crime," according to court documents.

Comer and Wilson, who faces life in prison under the three-strikes law, are in jail.

Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to Olajoyegbe's capture.

Olajoyegbe, 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, last gave an address in Lynwood, Wash. He has previous convictions for forgery and first-degree armed burglary. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

2 arrested in South Hill home robbery

Two men believed to be serial home robbers are responsible for a takeover-style invasion at a residence on the South Hill in late May.

Flint Fire Herrmann, 35, robbed the home at gunpoint with David F. Smith, already in jail for a May 31 robbery at a home on West Spofford Avenue, according to Spokane police.

Herrmann and Smith, 40, are accused targeting two safes with cash, coins and narcotics inside when they knocked on the door of a home in the 4400 block of East 46th Avenue about 12:30 a.m. 

A sleeping resident, Gordon Lagasse, III, awoke and answered the door but was knocked to the ground, then held at gunpoint while the other gunman stole the safes, according to court documents. The robbers also made Lagasse's father get on the floor at gunpoint.

The victims said they believe a family member “either intentionally or unintentionally informed another person” of the lock boxes, according to a search warrant filed last month by Detective Jack Rosenthal.

A cousin who admitted to detectives that she was a prostitute and a heroin addict said she knew of two men who commit robberies with shotguns while wearing black clothes and ski masks, according to the search warrant.

Smith also is believed to have shot Robert Ruth during a robbery on West Princeton Avenue on May 29. Ruth is accused of helping cop shooter Charles Wallace.

Members of the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Herrmann at his home in the 4200 block of West Everett Avenue in Spokane Sunday. His mother allowed police to search the home, and she showed Rosenthal where Herrmann's girlfriend had asked her to store a gun so he wouldn't go back to prison.

Rosenthal found the Glock 17 9 mm gun, which was loaded with hollow-point bullets, in a shed in the backyard, according to court documents.
  

Reward targets suspect in McD’s robbery

A reward is being offered for tips that help arrest a a suspect in a series of armed robberies in the Spokane area.

Avery Lee Loring, 25, is believed to be one of four men who robbed the McDonald's at 4647 S. Regal St., at gunpoint on May 25 while six juvenile customers were inside.

Suspects Michael D. Brown, 23; Dwayne J. “DJ” Tolbert, 21; and Brettly Sanderson, 16, have been arrested. They are among seven suspects jailed for a series of loosely connected hold ups.

Loring and Tolbert also are believed to have robbed the Zip Trip at 2020 W. Francis Ave., at gunpoint on May 31. The robbery netted $14, cigarettes and cigars.

Loring was sentenced to four years in prison in 2006 for a robbery attempt near Gonzaga University involving his now former girlfriend, Alyssa Anderson, then a high school honor student. Loring assaulted the victims with a tire iron after hiding in a bush while Anderson put on a ski mask and pointed a shotgun at them and demanded money, according to previously published reports He earned his GED while in jail.

Now Loring is wanted on new robbery charges and, like the other suspects, could be facing further charges as the investigation into the robbery spree continues. Police have been searching for him but were told he may have fled to California.

Anyone with information on Loring's current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should give a code name or number.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect charged in Calif.

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A former Kootenai County Jail nurse who also worked in elementary schools has been charged with robbing 21 banks in Washington, Oregon, California and Montana.

Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, 48, is accused of being the "Bad Hair Bandit," a serial robber nicknamed by the FBI because she wore a variety of ugly wigs during the heists, which authorities allege netted about $42,000.

Van Holland has been in jail in California since Placer County sheriff's deputies arrested last August after a robbery in Auburn, about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. Her 26-year-old husband, Christopher Alonzo, an ex-con whom Van Holland met while working as a nurse in Idaho prisons, also was arrested.

Police say the couple had a cat and litter box in their car, as well as more than $8,000 in a Victoria's Secret bag. They also had two wigs and a receipt indicating the items were purchased in Oregon on July 1 - the same day Van Holland is believed to have robbed a bank in Lake Oswego.

Van Holland confessed to the four-state robbery spree in an interview with an FBI agent at the Placer County Jail the day of her arrest, according to court documents. The Bad Hair Bandit had been on the FBI's most wanted list since May.

Placer County District Attorney Ronald Owens commended the Placer County Sheriff's Department for quickly responding to the robbery in Auburn and arrested Van Holland.

"I want to comment the rapid response and diligence of the Placef County Sheriff' Department following he Auburn robbery, for their work in quickly locating and arresting this pair of bank robbers and putting an end to their crime spree.

Van Holland worked as a contract nurse in jails and prisons and met Alonzo, a convicted felon from North Idaho, when he was an inmate. She was working at the Kootenai County Jail until about a week before her arrest and also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the robbery spree.

Van Holland is charged with the following robberies:

Dec. 22, 2010: U.S. Bank, Tacoma $2,072
Jan. 5, 2011: Key Bank, Tumwater $1,285
Jan. 12, 2011: Key Bank, Tacoma $1,214
Jan. 14, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway $1,050
Jan. 26, 2011: Cathay Bank, Kent $0
Jan. 27, 2011: First Security Bank, Redmond $441
Feb. 10, 2011: U.S Bank, Auburn, Wash. $965
 Feb. 19, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, University Place $619
March 25, 2011: Sound Community Bank, Tacoma $1,960
April 9, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, University Place $440
April 21, 2011: Cathay Bank, Bellevue $2,300
April 26, 2011: Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg $714
April 27, 2011: Key Bank, Moses Lake $2,938
May 9, 2011: Chase Bank, Spokane $1,920
June 7, 2011: Sterling Bank, Moses Lake $6,384
June 28: East West Bank, Sacramento, Calif. $671
June 28: U.S. Bank, Davis, Calif. $1,967
July 1, 2011: Key Bank, Lake Oswego, Ore. $1,600
July 18, 2011: Yakima Federal, Richland, Wash. $3,152
Aug. 11, 2011: Bank of Butte, Butte, Mont. $1,600
Aug. 15, 2011: Bank of the West, Auburn Calif. $8,722

Van Holland had been named a suspect in Jan. 21, 2011, robbery at Heritage Bank in Tacoma but is not charged. She remains in federal custody in California.

Past coverage:

May 12, 2011: Did the Bad Hair Bandit rob two Spokane banks in 2010?

Suspects arrested in brazen robberies

Seven people have been arrested for a series of brazen gunpoint robberies that targeted not only drug homes but a fast food restaurant with customers inside.

  More arrests are expected as part of an ongoing investigation that began May 25 when four masked robbers burst into the McDonald’s at 4647 S. Regal St. and robbed four employees and six customers of cash, phones and other valuables.

“It’s not like an organized crew of the same four people doing robbery after robbery, but a loosely knit group,” said Spokane police Major Frank Scalise. “I am confident that the overwhelming majority of this group is behind bars.”

Read the rest of my story here.

 Suspects Derek L. Wilson, Christopher M. Comer and Dwayne J. “DJ” Tolbert are pictured above, clockwise starting with Wilson in the left corner.

Man arrested for November robbery

A suspect has been arrested for a knife-point robbery at a northwest Spokane convenience store last November.

Christopher Jeremy Jay Eby, 35, is jailed on a first-degree robbery charge for a Nov. 13 hold-up at Zip Trip, 2020 W. Francis Ave, that netted $58.

Police identified him as a suspect through witness reports of a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am in the area. Police say Eby and his wife drove the car to the area earlier that day from a home in Nine Mile Falls.

The couple were living at a home in the 6200 block of North Maple Street.

Spokane police Detective Jeff Barrington said in court documents completed June 14 that Eby matches surveillance video of the robber. Deputy Prosectuor Mark Cipolla charged Eby with first-degree robbery on June 19, and he was arrested Thursday night.

Eby's last felony conviction in Spokane County was for possession of heroin in 2009. He also has convictions from the early 1990s for third-degree assault, first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree burglary and taking a motor vehicle without permission.

The same Zip Trip was robbed at gunpoint May 31. A man who robbed the store at gunpoint in January was sentenced in April to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Cop finds robber asleep across street

A man who robbed a convenience store of a drink and beef jerky at knife point didn't get very far early Sunday, police say.

In fact, Officer Scott Haney believes he found him passed out across the street with the stolen goods surrounding him.

Haney found a man matching the description of the robber asleep across the street while responding to a report of a robbery just before 4 a.m. Sunday at the nearby Tesoro gas station, 901 E. Sharp Avenue.

The suspect, later identified as James Joseph Tolman, 45, was booked into jail on first-degree robbery and resisting arrest charges.

A bystander had contacted Haney while he was interviewing the Tesoro clerk and told him there was a "man down" on the sidewalk in front of the Star Bar.

Haney saw a large pair of scissors and a large canned beverage sticking out of the man's front sweatshirt pocket. He also saw an empty package of jerky with its contents scattered around the sleeping man. The man also wore  a Washington State University sweatshirt, which is what the clerk said the robber was wearing, and he matched the height and weight of the robber.

The officer said Tolman resisted arrest, so Gonzaga University security officers Bary Loe and John Johnston helped him.

Police say Tolman had confronted the Tesoro employee with a small knife as he tried to leave the store with the items. A corporal photographed the items as well as Tolman's face, which police say "was injured during the arrest process."

Tolman is in the Spokane County Jail on the new charges as well as a U.S. Marshals' hold. He was convicted of gun charges in U.S. District Court in 2004.

4th suspect arrested in ‘09 home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery that occurred nearly three years ago.

Travis J. Kulhavy, 28, is accused of robbing four people at a home in the 500 block of East Garland Avenue on Oct. 8, 2009.

Co-defendant Brian L. Gilliam, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.

He and Maurice D. Lofton, 31, (pictured) who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to felony riot, helped police identify Kulhavy and Nicole A. Thompson, 21, as the final suspects in the robbery during interviews in late December and in January.

Thompson pleaded not guilty to the charges in May and is out of jail awaiting an August trial. Kulhavy had been wanted on a $150,000 warrant since May 3. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail Friday afternoon.

The incident began when a woman believed to be Thompson knocked on the front door and asked to use a telephone. Two men then appeared and one used a handgun to strike a man who exited the home and force him back inside. That man was forced to kneel down on the floor in an "execution-style position" as his wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape, according to court documents.

Three other people in the home also were restrained with duct tape and two were beaten with handguns. The robbers asked about drugs and money as they stole a duffel bag of marijuana, as well as cell phones, DVDs, a PlayStation and jewelry.

Police tracked one of the phones to the area of 200 E. Wedgewood Ave. the night of the robbery, where they arrested Gilliam and Lofton.

Gilliam described one of his accomplices as a woman named NIkki who had a tattoo that said "GD" and included a pitchfork.

Thompson showed detective Jeff Barrington that tattoo during an interview in March. "GD" is short for Gangster Disciple. Thompson told Barrington she was present during the robbery but "I did no harm. I didn't hurt no one. Travis did everything. All I did was get the door open," according to court documents.

Kulhavy and Thompson are charged with four counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree assault and single counts of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary.

Lofton was given the plea deal after the victim failed to identify him in a police lineup. He told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing that  "I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was messing around with the wrong friends.” Read more here.

Home-invasion suspect bragged to others

A Spokane man arrested for a May 31 home-invasion robbery had reportedly been bragging about his crimes, including to a woman who herself was a home-invasion victim.

David F. Smith, 40, remains jailed on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court Monday on charges of first-degree robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Police arrested him Friday at an apartment in the 800 block of West Cora Avenue after a tipster told police Smith had been bragging about robbing people, including the home in the 1600 block of West Spofford Avenue on May 31.

The tipster told police she helped Smith get heroin and that he regularly carries a black handgun and "waves it around stating if people won't give him stuff, he will take what he wants," according to court documents.

The apartment where Smith was arrested had been targeted in an invasion robbery on June 10 or June 11, police say.

The woman said Smith took her 1989 black Chevy Cavalier prior to the May 31 robbery. Victims in that robbery identified Smith as one of the gunmen.

A second suspect has not yet been arrested.

Investigators believe Smith may be involved in other home invasions, but they don’t believe he was involved in takeover-style robberies at a McDonald’s at 4647 S. Regal St. on May 25 and a Zip Trip at 1523 W. 10th Ave. on June 8.

Those robberies involved four men in ski masks with guns.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Suspect arrested in May 31 home robbery

Spokane police on Friday arrested a suspect in a May 31 gunpoint home-invasion  robbery.

David F. Smith, 40, is believed to have robbed a home in the 1600 block of West Spofford Avenue. Police say a resident was hit with a handgun, but no shots were fired.

Read the rest of my story here.

Car could hold clues in home invasion

Police are hoping fingerprints or DNA on a car stolen in a home-invasion robbery will help them identify suspects.

Officers found the 1997 Honda Civic stripped of its tires and wheels near West Gordon Avenue and West Glass Avenue in Spokane after it was stolen during a robbery at 2918 N. Hogan St., on June. 6.

The victim said a man he knew only as "Nike" arrived at his home with two men, including one who was holding a sawed-off shotgun. The gunman yelled "Where's the money? Where's the drugs?" and trashed the apartment as Nike and the other man also brandished guns, according to a search warrant filed this week. Police used the warrant to swab the Honda for possible fingerprints or DNA.

Another occupant of the apartment was pistol whipped. His roommate said he was robbed of $50, two laptops, a PlayStation 3 and stereo speakers.

It's unclear if the robbery is connected to other recent robberies, but the method of operation and suspects' descriptions is somewhat similar to that of a take-over style robbery that occurred at McDonald's, 4647 S. Regal St., May 25.

In that case, four men with ski masks targeted customers and employes with black semiautomatic handguns and a sawed-off, single-barrel shotgun. Detectives suspect that robbery may be connected to a take-over home-invasion robbery that occurred May 30 in the 4400 block of East 46th Avenue.

Another robbery involving four men in ski masks occurred early Friday, June 8, at the Zip Trip at 1523 W. 10th Ave., on the South Hill. Employees said the store was robbed at gunpoint by two white men and two Hispanic men wearing dark clothes and ski masks. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Chicago bank robber cut from air duct

OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) — A wig-wearing man broke into a suburban Chicago bank vault and nearly made off with $100,000 but got stuck in an air duct and had to be cut out hours later, authorities said Sunday.

Charles Estell, 38, was found early Sunday hiding in an air duct in an office next to the bank, according to Oak Lawn police spokesman Michael Kaufmann.

The Chicago man had allegedly robbed the suburban bank Saturday afternoon, and pointed a gun at bank employees who confronted him in the vault, according to the FBI.

"I don't want to kill or hurt you," Estell said, according to the criminal complaint. "I just want the money."

He allegedly stuffed $100,000 in a backpack and fled. Employees told authorities it appeared he escaped through the ceiling.

Authorities spent hours searching for him and located him around 1 a.m. Sunday. But before they could cut him loose from the air duct, they had to remove a wig of long, beaded dreadlocks he was wearing.

According to the criminal complaint, Estell told investigators that he got into the vault through the ceiling.

Estell was charged Sunday with one felony count of bank robbery and could face up to 20 years in prison. He has not entered a plea, and is due back in court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer. A phone message left Sunday at a number listed as his wasn't immediately returned.

Store fights booze thieves w/ mace

Employees at a Spokane grocery store pepper sprayed the front doors to try to stop two suspected booze thieves from attacking them on Friday, police say.

Police say Kerry Alan Zaugg, 24, appeared to be preparing to assault an employee at Grocery Boys, 3430 N. Crestline St., with a stolen $60 bottle of Grey Goose vodka until another employee emerged from the store with a baseball bat.

Zaugg had been chased in the parking lot after running from the store with the booze.

Co-defendant Norman L. Caoile, 25, was standing nearby and told employees to let Zaugg go after he gave them back the bottle. When an employee instead called 911, Caoile tried to knock the phone from his hand, then chased the employees back to the store with a tire iron, police say.

Police arrested the men in the parking lot. Caoile told officers he was trying to defend Zaugg with the tire iron because employees were continuing to attack him even after he'd given the booze bottle back.

Friday was the first day grocery stores could sell liquor in Washington. Zaugg and Caoile appeared in Superior Court Monday on charges of first-degree robbery.

McD’s robbery may be linked to others

Spokane police released this and other surveillence photos of the armed robbery at McDonald's May 25. View more here.

A takeover-style robbery that targeted customers and employees at a McDonald’s in south Spokane may be connected to a similar gunpoint attack at a nearby home five days later.

Victims in both robberies described the masked men’s weapons as black, semi automatic handguns and a sawed-off, single barrel shotgun, according to information released Monday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Boise fugitive arrested near Spirit Lake

A man suspected in a Boise home-invasion robbery was arrested recently near Spirit Lake.

The Kootenai County sheriff's SWAT team took Bryson G. Smith, 27, into custody Wednesday at 28128 N. Highway 41.

A confidential source told detectives Smith was hiding at the address and was wanted in Ada County on a no-bond warrant for a home-invasion robbery April 8. 

Members of the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force confirmed he was there and obtained a search warrant. Smith was booked into the Kootenai County Jail to await extradition to Boise.

Sheriff's officials were kind enough to send out before and after mug shots of Smith.

Suspect’s friend deplores ‘stupid’ crime

A 17-year-old boy was arrested for a knife-point robbery early Tuesday that even his friend said was stupid.

Edward D. Sjoquist is accused of threatening three people with a knife and stealing a wallet near North Monroe Street and West Cleveland Avenue about 12:35 a.m.

One of the victims told police another man approached her attacker and yelled at him and the two ran into a nearby home.

Police contacted that man, who said he and Sjoquist were walking to McDonald's when Sjoquist said he was going to rob someone. The man said he ran up to Sjoquist after the attack and told him "he was stupid and smacked the wallet" out of his hand.

Police found marijuana in Sjoquist's pants pocket when he was booked into juvenile detention center. He's to be charged as an adult with three counts of first-degree robbery.

Robbers take over South Hill McDonald’s

Four masked robbers took over a McDonald's on the South Hill at gunpoint Friday night, and police are asking for help identifying them. 

Police today released three surveillance photos of the robbers, who accosted six people inside the restaurant at 4647 S. Regal St., just after 10 p.m.

The victims complied with demands and none was injured. The robbers, who wore black clothing, fled on foot before police arrived. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to arrests. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Police: We saved repeat offender’s life

Spokane police say they saved the life of a career criminal and sex offender when he went into cardiac arrest after he was taken into custody Sunday.

Officer Nick Geren administered first aid on Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, while he was being transported to the jail after he was picked up the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team.

Epperson was taken to a hospital, then booked into jail on a slew of felony charges related to a home-invasion robbery and a burglary spree.

Epperson is level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. A woman who identified herself as his sister said in an email to The Spokesman-Review that he has "at least 10 kids that we know about."

"He is a menace," Melissa Epperson said in the email. "Please fight to keep him locked up for your community and his children."

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County.

Investigators believe he burglarized homes of guns, electronics and jewelry to help pay a $1,000 debt to his heroin dealer. Epperson's girlfriend, Chelsey M. Loe, also is suspected in the case. Investigators searched the couple's home at 51 E. Crown on May 6 and recovered meth and suspected stolen property.

Epperson told sheriff's detectives he burglarized homes with Anthony L. Haines, who was arrested May 2 with a gun stolen in one of the burglaries, according to court documents.

Epperson was out of jail awaiting arraignment in that case when police say he helped rob residents at a home in the Indian Trail area May 22. Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Geren was awarded the Spokane Police Department's life-saving award in 2008 after he and Officer Brian Eckersley administered CPR on a woman who'd fallen unconscious in downtown Spokane.

Sex offender arrested in home invasion

A sex offender suspected in a violent gunpoint home-invasion robbery was arrested today.

 Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, was booked into jail on felony charges related to an early-morning attack last Tuesday in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Epperson in the 4200 block of North Atlantic Street, Officer Brian Eckersley said in a news release.

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County and is to be arraigned Wednesday on residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and resisting arrest charges.

He was out of jail awaiting that arraignment when police allege he partook in the robbery, which involved the victims being bound with zip ties and one being pistol whipped.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Epperson faces charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, Eckersley said. Prosecutors filed charges on Friday.

Epperson is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. He was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2003. He also has a conviction for indecent liberties.

Man gets 10+ years for home robbery

A Spokane man has been sentenced to about 10 years in prison for a gunpoint robbery last year.

Jeremy L. Standon, 30, has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions for first-degree robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm, money laundering, drug possession, second-degree identity theft, first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm.

He recorded his second first-degree robbery conviction - and second strike under the state's three-strikes-and-you're-out law - when he pleaded guilty in late April. Now he's headed to prison on a 129-month sentence that will include credit for 364 days already served in jail after being sentenced this week in Spokane County Superior Court.

Co-defendant John Gibson Dean, 30, is awaiting trial. He was arrested earlier this month after a couple months as a fugitive.

Police say Dean and Standon robbed three people of money, jewelry and electronics after being allowed inside the home at 1415 N. Post St. May 9, 2011. Police paid a confidential informant $100 for information that helped identify the men.

2 arrested in Indian Trail home invasion

Two men have been arrested for a north Spokane home-invasion robbery in which the victims were bound with zip ties and one was pistol whipped.

Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, are accused of entering a home in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area about 2:45 a.m Tuesday, awaking a resident and asking him about a safe before stealing other items.

The victim said Day was armed with a handgun, and McDaniels told him to "be quiet and do what we say or you are going to get shot," according to court documents prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Day struck the victim with in the eye with the butt of the gun, but the man said he was able to break free from his zip ties and jump out a window. He said his Wii gaming console and games were stolen during the robbery.

Another resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

But that man was able to break free, too, and he grabbed a sword and struck McDaniels in the arm with it. The robbers then fled. The man's girlfriend said the robbers also threatened her with a gun and stole her iPhone.

Detectives conducting surveillance on the suspects Wednesday spotted McDaniels in the 4700 block of North Standard and arrested him. He had with him credit cards and a driver's license belonging to one of the victims, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Day was arrested Wednesday in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue with a stolen handgun. Police recovered the stolen Wii console from a home there, as well as baggies of methamphetamine.

The men were jailed on robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges. A third suspect, Joshua C. Epperson, is not yet in custody,

Robbery case resolved in 3 weeks

That was fast.

A 35-year-old man arrested for a robbery nearly three weeks ago has pleaded guilty.

Shawn James Combs was sentenced to about 3 1/2 years in prison for first-degree robbery last week in Spokane County Superior Court.

He'd made his first court appearance May 2 after being arrested on a warrant for the Feb. 2 hold-up at the Select Inn Motel, 1420 W. 2nd Ave.

Combs got $150 in the robbery. He's required to pay back the money as part of his sentencing.

He remains in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.