Seattle police are looking for suspects in a string of pepper-spray-and-pistol robberies over the last few weeks in the East Precinct.
In the most recent incident we’ve come across, two suspects pulled a handgun on a man and pepper sprayed him on December 3rd after the victim stopped and asked the suspects for directions.
According to police, the victim pulled up to the two suspects at 21st and E Spruce around 5:45pm after he got lost on his way to a friend’s house.
One suspect then pulled out a black handgun and demanded the victim’s money.
As the victim reached for the $50 he had in his pocket, a second suspect pepper sprayed the victim and took the keys out of the victim’s ignition.
The suspects then fled.
The victim told police both suspects were black males in their early 20s. One suspect was about 5’7 and the other slightly taller, according to a police report.
In a somewhat similar incident about a week earlier, on November 25th, a group of three suspects held up a car full of people at gunpoint and pepper sprayed them at 29th and E Columbia.
The victims said a male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt walked up to the vehicle, pointed a black, semi-automatic pistol through the open window on the passenger side and demanded the passenger’s wallet and phone. Meanwhile, on the other side of the vehicle, another male started emptying a “large” can of pepper spray into the vehicle through the driver’s window and then began beating the can against the windows in an attempt to break them. At this point, the driver was able to drive away from the scene but not before all three occupants of the car had received a face-full of burning spray.
Finally, we found a report for one other pepper spray/handgun robbery at a Capitol Hill gym earlier this month.
Around 11:00pm on December 1st, police were called to the gym in the 1500 block of Summit after a man walked up to the front counter and told an employee to empty the business’s safe.
According to the report, the suspect stuck a handgun underneath the glass window at the counter, and threatened to shoot an employee.
He then handed the employee a gym bag, and demanded cash.
When the employee handed the suspect $1300 from the safe and $683 from a cash register, the suspect sprayed the clerk in the face with pepper spray and fled.
The report lists the suspect as an “unknown Race Male,” 5’8″, wearing a hoody and a scarf, which covered the suspect’s face.
Reports don’t indicate whether police believe any of the incidents are related.
In the gym robbery, it appears the suspect was familiar with the business—the report indicates the suspect knew about the gym’s security measures, and knew the business had a safe—which doesn’t quite match the m.o. of the pepper spray/pistol street robbers.
We’ll check around today and see whether the department believes any of these cases are connected.