OKANOGAN Residents of Okanogan County deserve a lot of the credit for helping police track down a man suspected of robbing Riverside Grocery last week.
Oroville resident Alex A. Sanchez, 37, was arrested Oct. 2 by Oroville Police Chief Clay Warnstaff.
“We are extremely grateful and want to thank the citizens of Okanogan County, for all who called in with information,” Sheriff Frank Rogers said. “Because they took an interest, we were able to make a speedy arrest in the case and for that, we thank you.”
Sanchez heard an anticipated charge of first-degree robbery in the Sept. 30 incident at the grocery store, 102 N. Main St. During the incident, which was caught on the store’s security cameras, owner Kim Nagy was knocked down and punched.
Charges had not been filed as of Oct. 7.
An estimated $650 in cash was taken from the till, Sgt. Tony Hawley’s report showed.
“From the information obtained at the time and a video of the robbery that was put out to the public, the Sheriff’s Office has received several calls” about the thief, Rogers said. Those who called in identified the robber as Sanchez.
“We also knew that Sanchez drove a van which had been described to us by the victim of the robbery,” Rogers said.
The Sheriff’s Office then put out the word to other agencies to look for Sanchez.
Warnstaff spotted the suspect as he got out of a van and went into an apartment in Oroville.
“Deputies were responding to the scene when Sanchez left the apartment and got back in the van and started to leave. Chief Warnstaff stopped the vehicle and arrested Sanchez at the scene without incident,” Rogers said.
Sanchez was taken the Okanogan County Jail and booked.
A probable cause statement – Hawley’s report of the incident – said when he arrived at the store he saw medications knocked off the shelves to the floor, a vacuum cleaner knocked over and a folding-blade knife lying on the floor with the blade locked open.
Nagy told him she’d been in the back when the suspect entered the store. She went to greet him, but he didn’t respond. He was wearing sunglasses and a bandana over his face.
He knocked her to the floor, and punched her in the head and face at least three times, the report said. She kicked back, but he allegedly told her to stop or he would kill her.
The thief went to the cash register, pushed one button and opened it, and then took bills from it.
As he was leaving, he threatened to kill her.
She said she went to the phone and called 911, and saw a van leaving. She flagged down a passing motorist, Darrel Armstrong, and asked him to try and find the vehicle but he could not.
A witness reported seeing the van heading south on Old Riverside Highway at a high rate of speed.
Rogers said the case remains under investigation. Deputies also suspect Sanchez may have robbed Dan’s Market, 32144 U.S. Highway 97, Ellisforde, earlier in September.
In an unrelated case, Sanchez also was booked Oct. 3 on suspicion of third-degree assault, felony harassment and unlawful imprisonment for an incident at 11 p.m. Sept. 23 at a downtown Omak apartment. The victim, a 32-year-old woman, requested an ambulance at midnight Sept. 24.
The investigation is ongoing, the Omak Police Department said.
Sanchez is well known to law enforcement and has an extensive criminal history, Rogers said. The suspect is known to travel between Douglas County and Oroville in Okanogan County.