Efforts by Mountlake Terrace police to solve a string of robberies highlighted the police department’s annual year-end report to the Mountlake Terrace City Council during its Feb. 19 business meeting.
Three juvenile suspects are currently awaiting trial for committing four robberies between Jan. 2-4. During the council presentation, Mountlake Terrace Police Detective Sgt. Pat Lowe praised the efforts of his fellow officers .
“This is why I got into police work,” he said. “It’s one of the best things we can do”
Lowe gave the council a detailed account of the two-day crime spree, which began when two suspects — later identified from video surveillance to be juveniles — shoplifted from the 56th Avenue Market.
A second robbery – which occurred nine hours after the first incident – reportedly involved four to six males who robbed a man at gunpoint of his cellphone.
A third robbery occurred on Jan. 3, in the 23300 block of 52nd Avenue West, when two juvenile males approached a man in his car and robbed him of his iPhone X at gunpoint. A fourth robbery occurred at Forrest Crest Playfield, when the victim of the third robbery responded to an ad for the stolen iPhone X on the mobile-marketplace phone app OfferUp. During this robbery, the victim attempted to fight back and he was hit in the head with a gun by one of the suspects, and was later hospitalized, Lowe said.
According to Lowe, police were able to discover the identity of one suspect by showing a photo — obtained from video surveillance — to a school resource officer at Mountlake Terrace High School. After positively identifying the suspect, Lowe said police discovered the student’s address was located at the center of the crime scenes.
“We later learned the suspect would flee to his home after the robberies to evade capture,” he said.
After contacting the suspect’s parents, Lowe said he was able to communicate with the suspect over the phone. The suspect arrived to speak to police in the company of another juvenile who confessed to being a part of the robberies.
“Through this investigation, suspect number two admitted to being part of two out of the four robberies,” Lowe said.
While being interviewed by officers, the first two suspects named a third suspect, who was the second suspect from the first robbery. The third suspect was arrested after police identified him from yearbooks at his former middle school, Lowe said.
“After three days of pretty amazing police work, we were able to arrest three suspects who have now been formally charged and are awaiting trial,” he said.
Lowe also mentioned that because the second robbery reportedly involved more suspects than the other three incidents, some in the community worried that the police did not arrest everyone involved. But Lowe said the Mountlake Terrace community should not be worried. He said police never confirmed there were more suspects involved and based on what they learned interviewing the suspects, anyone else involved may have been from south Seattle.
“We don’t believe there’s really anyone out there,” he said. “There’s no danger to the community.”
According to Lowe, the Mountlake Terrace Police Department has shared information about the robberies with the Seattle Police Department.
Also, because the robberies were committed near a Korean church and Korean-owned business, there were also fears that these crimes were racially motivated. But Lowe said he believes the locations were a coincidence.
After the presentation, councilmembers praised the police department’s work in solving the crimes. Councilmember Laura Sonomore said the department’s detective work was “phenomenal.”
“It makes me feel safer as a citizen,” she said. “I hope it makes other feel safer too.”
— By Cody Sexton