(Toplines: Rite-Aid pharmacy robbed 8:35ish pm, robber thought to have fled into nearby apt., SWAT team called out, determined after 11 pm he wasn’t there and is still at large)
(photo added 9:48 pm)
ORIGINAL 9:10 PM REPORT: Thanks to Manuel for the first tip – and the phone’s just started ringing too – we’re en route to check out the “heavy police presence” around Rite-Aid south of The Junction (map). One report says it’s a search for a robbery suspect, and police may soon be stopping traffic in the area. A “command post” is being set up in the area to manage the operation – scanner says police are going to route traffic “around the Rite-Aid.” 9:17 PM UPDATE: 42nd SW also is blocked at Dawson, a block east of Rite-Aid. 9:21 PM UPDATE: Talked to police at the scene – they confirm a robbery attempt at the Rite-Aid pharmacy, and the robber may be holed up in a nearby apartment building – that’s why police are bringing in reinforcements. Again, avoid the area. Just received a note from Nick, who was there just after it happened:
I just got back from filling a prescription at Rite Aid on Calif. The place had been held up just seconds before I got there. Probably around 845 pm. I first heard the store manager on the phone with 911 telling the police about the robbery, saying the suspect had ducked into some apartment buildings across the street.. When I went into the back to the pharmacy, the young pharmacist was on the phone talking to 911, clearly shaken up. When she got off, she told me a man had jumped over the counter, surprising her. “you can’t be back here,” she said she told him. He then brandished a gun, took some medicine and fled. I heard the store manager then say that he had given chase, thinking the guy was a garden variety shoplifter and not knowing he had a weapon. i walked out of the riteaid to see about 4 or five police cars. the cops were putting on their flack jackets, all carrying shotguns or semiautos. one guy in assault gear (helmet, etc) was walking around an apartment building with his weapon drawn. scary stuff.
The SWAT team has arrived. Photos shortly. Information as it develops. Again, California and 42nd are both blocked at Dawson – don’t know about points west (let us know if you are seeing anything over there). (short video clip added 9:53 pm, SWAT team members gearing up)
9:39 PM UPDATE: We just checked the extent of where traffic is blocked off. California/Brandon on the south (by West Seattle Nursery) – over to 45th on the west, 42nd on the east, and then up to Dawson on the north. So if you need to get between north and south West Seattle, you’re going to have to veer either all the way west toward the water or east toward 35th or Delridge.
10:01 PM UPDATE: Police have moved the roadblock another block north, to Hudson, so that’s the new northern edge. Here are the boundaries, roughly (the red triangle marks the Rite-Aid):
View Larger Map
10:21 PM: No play-by-play to report because what we’re hearing on the scanner is all tactical stuff that “live” media don’t report in case it gives something away to the person who’s being sought. But it’s still a very “active” scene, and co-publisher Patrick is there with the rest of the media while your editor here monitors the scanner and posts updates as they are heard, or called in by P., or e-mailed by WSB’ers.
10:33 PM UPDATE: There’s activity at the scene – a chopper was there for a while – and police are coming out of the apartment building, heading toward the Rite-Aid across the street. Patrick is with the TV crews at the scene and there’s no clear information yet exactly what has happened. He’s seen two women in handcuffs – the robber was reported to have been a man, but there also was scanner traffic at one point an hour or so ago indicating a “separate incident” that police were handling inside the building.
10:55 PM UPDATE: There’s reportedly been an arrest — Patrick is trying to confirm the circumstances and that this is believed to be the robbery suspect — and California should reopen shortly.
11:01 PM UPDATE: Traffic back to normal and police leaving. Still working on confirmation of exactly who they have and whether nobody else is believed to be at large.
11:06 PM UPDATE: A captain at the scene tells us the robber IS NOT in custody. Two people who were detained have been released. This may explain why we heard scanner traffic earlier asking how much of a lag there had been between the actual robbery and the call to police. Have seen this happen before, where a suspect is believed to be holed up somewhere – then turns out not to be. We have a call out to the on-call media officer to try to double-verify this, given that it conflicts with what one other media organization reported.
11:17 PM UPDATE: SPD media unit Officer Renee Witt just called. She confirms: The suspect IS NOT IN CUSTODY – so he was not in the apartment after all. We don’t have a description to share, at this point.
11:37 PM UPDATE: Lt. Ron Smith at Southwest Precinct also confirms the robber was NOT in the apartment, when the SWAT team finally got in. He also confirms the account published above of what happened — pharmacy was robbed, robber showed a gun. So at this point, the search hits a dead end for now — robber still on the loose.
12:12 AM: Adding a few photos before we close this out: First two are from WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli:
Co-publisher Patrick took this next one – the bus at right was brought in for potential use if residents had to be evacuated from the apartment building the robber was thought to be holed up in.