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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Woman helps police snag drugstore robbery suspect

Would-be shopper tracks man with 911 on the phone

Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer

A north Spokane woman with a hankering for candy and Nicorette gum is being credited by Spokane police with stopping an armed OxyContin 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 runner, 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 the powerful and addictive painkiller.

He appeared Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court and was being held in Spokane County Jail.

Anderson was “instrumental” in Mace’s arrest, said 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 police work.

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

Ronald Warner, 53, called 911 and held Baxter at gunpoint outside the home in the 2600 block of West Longfellow Avenue until police arrived.

Police don’t want residents putting themselves in danger, but officers praised 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,’ ” she 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. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com.
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