West Seattle Crime Watch: 3 arrested in dispensary robbery

(SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: Police have just posted their account – we’ve added it)

(Photos by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
7:49 PM: We finally have a bit of information about the big police response that’s drawn tips and questions the past hour and a half. The first tipster thought they were seeing something “undercover” around California/Juneau, so we headed out and saw police at two scenes, the tense “guns-drawn” situation in the photo above (which we photographed with a zoom lens), just north of California-Brandon, where someone was ordered out of a car and then cuffed:

Further south, there were multiple cars outside the building that is home to a medical-marijuana dispensary, and while you can’t see it from this angle, police were inside – the door is set back from the street (the building is not in our angle either, it’s immediately south) – talking with people:

Southwest Precinct Lt. Alan Williams tells WSB that since officers are still out, full details aren’t available yet but it is reported to have been a robbery or attempted robbery; three people are in custody (according to later scanner traffic, two are juveniles, one is an adult), and up to two more suspects may still be at large. Lt. Williams says robbery and CSI detectives are responding to investigate now. There is no indication anyone is hurt, and no information yet about whether anything was taken.

10:28 PM UPDATE: More information from Lt. Williams, now confirming it was a robbery: “The suspects’ did take some property of the dispensary and personal property of at least one person inside. At least some of the property taken was recovered by officers. The detectives are continuing their investigation.” (We just drove past the scene, on our way back from two other stories, and saw two police cars still parked outside the building on California.)

SUNDAY MORNING, 9:17 AM: SPD Blotter has just posted a summary of what they say happened:

On March 19th, shortly after 6:00 PM, three suspects entered a licensed medical marijuana dispensary located in the 5400 Block of California Avenue SW. Also inside the business were three employees and two customers. The three suspects were asked by employees to leave, as they were not there to purchase anything. At that point, the suspects pulled out handguns and proceeded to restrain everyone in the store and rob them. The suspects then fled the store on foot. The employees of the business were able to free themselves and gave chase. They managed to catch two of the suspects a few blocks away. In his haste to get away, one of the suspects dropped his handgun and some stolen items in the alley. Responding officers arrested the two suspects and then located and arrested the third suspect a short distance away. In all, two handguns, the victim’s wallets and money and stolen marijuana were all recovered. Robbery and CSI detectives responded to the location to process the scene. All of the suspects were interviewed by detectives. The 24 year old male was later booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Robbery. The other suspects, ages 16 and 17, were booked into the Youth Services Center for Investigation of Robbery. Robbery detectives will have the responsibility for the continuing investigation.

57 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: 3 arrested in dispensary robbery"

  • j March 19, 2011 (8:17 pm)

    There is a medical marijuana dispensary in West Seattle?!? I had no idea.

    • WSB March 19, 2011 (8:22 pm)

      There are at least two, actually. See our recent coverage of the Delridge discussion of a possible third (sorry we are mobile right now and can’t get the link)

  • Captain90s March 19, 2011 (8:33 pm)

    It’s a (heretofore) well kept secret. I do hope this incident doesn’t cause problems for them.

  • Anthony Salvano March 19, 2011 (8:38 pm)

    I saw the hole thing from my deck. First I saw a undercover truck with two guys in it driving like 5 mph down California ave following a guy and then final pulled over next to him and asked him something, the guy yelled I dont have a gun, one guy got out and the kid walking ran across the street yelling help one followed him on foot the other called for back up and followed in the truck. I looked down the street and there was something else going on right by the findley.

  • j March 19, 2011 (8:41 pm)

    Just looked up the Delridge discussion coverage. Must have missed that one. You guys don’t miss a beat! Thanks!

  • westsea March 19, 2011 (9:55 pm)

    I was wondering how long that would take.

  • Nulu March 19, 2011 (10:00 pm)

    “It’s a (heretofore) well kept secret.” Captain 90s

    Only if you have not seen the ads this dispensary runs in the Seattle Weekly , Stranger and other publications. Or have not seen mention in the Seatle Times news coverage.

    Brings up a question, does WSB accept medical marijuana ads?

    • WSB March 19, 2011 (10:27 pm)

      Nulu – We have received one inquiry, and did not pursue it. Currently, authorities are very clear, as city attorney rep. John Schochter stated again at the Delridge District Council meeting last week (story still in the works on that one): “Dispensaries are not technically legal.” (The state also declares that they are illegal.) Right now, the legislature is considering a bill (as we wrote in the first Delridge story) that would clarify these businesses’ status, and Schochter said that if the state doesn’t pass some form of that, the city will seek to make its own regulations. (The state bill, last time I looked at it, by the way, would expressly prohibit advertising for dispensaries.) – TR

  • Karrie Kohlhaas March 19, 2011 (10:20 pm)

    They don’t miss a beat. That’s why we all need to support the Blog! Thanks guys for being so on the ball and keeping us informed.

  • Darid Demulle March 19, 2011 (10:49 pm)

    What time did this happen? I was there at 3pm takin pictures!
    As for the AD’s. How will the new patients find their medicine? There needs to be some form of informational to direct patients. May be more discrete than the Seattle Times, but there will always be a way to get the information across.

  • bigjimbob March 19, 2011 (11:57 pm)

    the name of the collective that was robbed was called game collective. If you’re looking for information on where to obtain your meds locally try this website.http://www.thclist.com/index.html

    • WSB March 20, 2011 (12:22 am)

      BJB, are those all paid listings? The other known business of this type in West Seattle, Pharmaseed (opened earlier this year on Alki), isn’t listed, fwiw. And while an article to which we linked in our previously mentioned coverage did include the name you mention for the establishment robbed today, it is licensed in the City of Seattle database as “Green Piece Alternative Medicine.” Part of the challenge, since there is no regulation, is that there is no category under which these places are licensed – Green Piece/GAME is licensed as “eating places”; Pharmaseed is not categorized.
      Nonetheless, what matters here is that a business was robbed, which certainly, unfortunately, happens to many other types of businesses too. Even though no physical injuries were reported, I hope however it transpired wasn’t too traumatic to those on duty and anyone else there at the time.

  • Jiggers March 20, 2011 (1:20 am)

    So Sad..

  • bigjimbob March 20, 2011 (8:27 am)

    WSB yes and no it is free to advertise there but I believe the bigger ads you have to pay for. Anyway the collective on Alki is Pharmaseed Seattle. And can be found here and they even have a coupon lol. http://legalmarijuanadispensary.com/

  • dawsonct March 20, 2011 (8:45 am)

    Nice to see a dispensary being protected and not busted.

  • bigjimbob March 20, 2011 (9:00 am)

    by the way here’s a link to the recent coverage of the Delridge discussion very interesting read.https://westseattleblog.com/2011/03/delridge-dispensary-discussion-why-marijuanas-on-the-agenda

  • Jeanette March 20, 2011 (9:30 am)

    I was so surprised to learn last week whilst reading the blog that there is a dispensary just a block from my house. Apparently, a well kept secret to just about everyone except clients; it is in a back corner of the lot, unmarked, and very quiet. My second thought, however, was how blogging the exact addresses of the two established dispensaries would affect the safety and security of both the two businesses and the surrounding neighborhoods. I wonder if, as part of the police investigation, the suspects will be questioned as to how they came to know of the dispensary and its address.

    • WSB March 20, 2011 (9:47 am)

      Jeanette – WSB is far from the first media outlet to mention these establishments and their locations. The addresses of both also are all over the web, as we noted in that earlier story (follow the links – the one on Alki has its address right on its home page … http://www.pharmaseed.co ). Not to mention, they’re both licensed by the city and listed in its business-license database, as well as, as pointed out by an earlier commenter, advertising in some publications. They are no more secret than other medical clinics, pharmacies, etc., and by advertising, they are certainly not seeking to be secret, either.

  • Renaissance Red March 20, 2011 (10:14 am)

    I go here regularly w/ my partner and have never felt unsafe or found that the place is seedy. The customers seem to be just int there to get their supplies and leave. It’s not supposed to be a flashy in your face type of location for lots of reasons. It’s sad that this may be something that ALL dispensaries have to deal with.

    These perps were obviously casing the place since they went in at closing time.

    Sad because we use dispensaries for battling the side effects of chemo–and lots of people use them for real medical purposes. And some people just like to smoke…their choice but I hope that GAME is still supported and welcomed in the WS community.

  • Alex March 20, 2011 (10:23 am)

    “the suspects did steal some *property* of the dispensary.” “property”? Haha, nice and purposefully vague. I wonder… whatever type of property might they have stolen from a MARIJUANA dispensary? A true mystery…

  • coffee March 20, 2011 (10:28 am)

    I have a very close friend who has lupus and has been offered a medical perscription for his continued pain relief. He is considering it, but he is also extreemely worried because of the stories the media has listed (not the blogs stories, he lives south of here). At any rate, watching the daily pain and 12-30 pills a day he has to take, I do not see why the law makers have to keep dragging this out.

  • bridge to somewhere March 20, 2011 (11:07 am)

    Mostly I am sad–but not surprised–that two of the armed robbers were 17 or under. Those losers have a lifetime of crime and incarceration in front of them. And we good citizens will pay for their behavior in one way or another throughout their pathetic lives.

  • Jeanette March 20, 2011 (11:14 am)

    “They are no more secret than other medical clinics, pharmacies, etc., and by advertising, they are certainly not seeking to be secret, either.”

    I have to disagree with this, WSB. All of the medical clinics and pharmacies I have patronized had signs on their building, announcing their exact locations.

    I’ve always had the utmost respect for the WSB and your content and editing decisions. (See storm coverage 2009 a.k.a the only thing that kept me from going stir-crazy or more recently, collaborative capture of Hookum M.Jeebs murder suspect – for the win!)

    However, as part of your editorial decision making process, I assume you’re also making decisions based on based on the possible negative effects of your reporting. Of course, I am not arguing your right to free speech; I am fully aware that this is your right to publish the exact addresses of these dispensaries. However, I am wondering if this business was *your* neighbor, if you would want to increase its visibility by publishing the exact address, or rather would just saying that two more dispensaries exist in West Seattle would have be sufficient. At least then would-be criminals would have had to do some of the leg work.

    Incidentally, one of the long list of reasons I am proud to live in an area as progressive as West Seattle is because we do have dispensary services available to people suffering chronic pain and illness. However, the top photo of officers with their guns drawn just spitting distance from my house has me very shaken up. Our neighborhood is predominantly young families like mine. I have a daughter who now is old enough to play in the yard by herself, and no doubt would have been enjoying yesterday evening’s nice weather, had she been home. I now have some tough choices to make regarding her level of supervision.

  • home values going up March 20, 2011 (12:03 pm)

    This is a great story about the value of living in our neighborhood.

    Armed “take over” robbery and pot distribution always looks good to prospective home buyers, many of whom follow this blog.

    This crime stat “dot” on the map for violent armed robbery will follow our neighborhood for a year. Does anyone think this is the last violent crime we will hear of at this location?

    The fact that it has no sign and is recessed from the street only increases attraction to criminals who want the pot and cash from this unlawful business.

    At least the real estate agents who now know about the store can drive their clients by to see one of the small businesses providing boutique products to the neighborhood.

  • Pete March 20, 2011 (12:21 pm)

    Jeanette, I must hope that you do not let your entire life’s decisions be based upone one isolated incident. We cannot let isolated life’s happening’s dominate how welive our life. If we do then “they” have won.

  • Chris March 20, 2011 (12:28 pm)

    The sad reality is that pharmacy robberies are becoming common. These are armed robberies very similar to the one at the dispensary, however folks are not commenting to say that they are now concerned about living close to where they purchase their antibiotics. Some drugs, both legal and not, have high street value making them an attractive target for robbers.

  • Craig March 20, 2011 (1:34 pm)

    I will echo the comments I made previously in response to another recent violent event linked to dopers. “Medicinal” basement grows and these shady “pharmacies” are magnets to nothing but BAD. Of course the value of our community and it’s property is negatively impacted by what goes on here and the perceptions and realities associated with illegal drug use. Glad WSB has chosen NOT to endose these shops by allowing advertising.


  • doeBerman March 20, 2011 (1:39 pm)

    Great Blog and coverage. I never knew about this blog until now. Where have I been??

  • WMF March 20, 2011 (1:58 pm)

    Craig is right. Thankfully, there’s never been a robbery attempt of a regular pharmacy around here. Oh wait… There was. On the same block.

  • miws March 20, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    +1 to Chris.


    Pharmacies get robbed for their narcotics, any business that handles cash is susceptible to being robbed for that cash, and/or product.


    This legally licensed business is in a commercial area, and not tucked away on some residential street on a cul-de-sac.



  • bigjimbob March 20, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    Jeanette you’re just being prejudice. Believe me there has been more than one robbery on California Avenue that did not involve a marijuana co-op. So maybe banks and convenience stores and pharmacies should not post their address so they will not be robbed? Basically in your same thought process you probably don’t want to live next to a bank because they are robbed all the time. Wake up people medical marijuana users are not criminals.

  • WMF March 20, 2011 (2:12 pm)

    really, every time I see people scream “oh noes, my property values!”, I think ‘gtfo my west seattle’.

    Someone deserving of the title “resident of west Seattle” asks ‘is everyone ok?’ before they ask how it’s going to alter the price of their home. Take that mess back to the east side.

  • Wendy March 20, 2011 (2:13 pm)

    My question comes as a small business owner, the city code states a business cannot reside in a residential area that is employing more than 1 employee whom does not reside in the house, can have no more than 1 delivery per day, and should not have excessive traffic {there is an exact number of comings and goings stated} (day cares are an exclusion, with a limit). How would a dispensary not be subject to these same codes? I encourage you as a neighbor to take that stand, I have no problem with the legal operation, but if IT IS a business they should be held to the same standards. In a commercial setting, robberies such these may be deterred, or at least when the SWAT team comes it isn’t where kids are playing in the comfort of their own yard.

  • Wendy March 20, 2011 (2:20 pm)

    Somehow I missed the location of this particular dispensary…
    Mike must have been posting when I was. The tucked away side street locations is who I am referring to.
    @Bigjimbob — as long as everything is LEGAL then there is no problem. It is when people are getting a card for medical marijuana that have no cause, or better yet getting the permission to dispense and use themselves for recreation. And YES we all know that happens.

  • bigjimbob March 20, 2011 (2:55 pm)

    I agree with you Wendy but the problem is with state and the lawmakers not the end user. Washington state does not issue a card they issue a watermark prescription for pharmaceutical marijuana. To obtain one of these one in most cases has to go to a not very reputable clinic to receive their prescription. This is because of the feds and the state threatening licenses. In primary care physicians would issue the medical marijuana instead of shady clinics he would have a lot less abuse of the system. But with prescription drugs medical marijuana or alcohol or even food they need to be used not abused.

  • d March 20, 2011 (5:12 pm)

    to craig-

    If i were given the choice to having cancer and needing chemo therapy i would certainly have chosen not to. If there were a legal method of pain relief that didnt involve heavy narcotics with discusting side effects i would certainly have chosen that option. If the government gave me a LEGAL place to receive my medication without folks like you belittling my decision I would have gone there…

    but again, i apologize for my illness depreciating your property value. sure there are people who abuse the medicinal system and dont really need it, but tell me the same doesnt go for painkillers or ADD medication

  • Silly Goose March 20, 2011 (6:06 pm)

    WOW I saw this happening, as we were driving up to the taco truck I looked over and noticed the front door of this establishment wide open and 3 guys hanging on the front entrence and said to my husband that something looked wrong!! Now I know why. Geeze glad they arrested them. Scary stuff..

  • CandrewB March 20, 2011 (6:13 pm)

    Hey Craig, the Papa Johns across the street has been robbed multiple times since we’ve lived here. If you bought a home in the last 10 years, you are likely underwater. That’s Wall Street’s fault, not the dispensary.

  • Patrick Sand March 21, 2011 (8:32 am)

    There was a Friday night in January of 2009 where some one with a gun jumped the pharmacy counter at the Rite Aid and the SPD SWAT team was deployed for about three hours. One of the apartment building across the street was emptied as precaution until the gun man was found.

  • John Smith March 21, 2011 (1:28 pm)

    Although most liberals find marijuana to be a safe drug or acceptable, keep in mind its still an illegal drug…..And all drugs bring violence, even marijuana.

  • furor scribendi March 21, 2011 (1:36 pm)

    Another example of the myth of peaceful cannabis culture. Prime local example: the demise of Hokum Jeebs, home weed grower extraordinaire and victim of a vicious premeditated crime. People operating on the edge of the law usually attract those who’ve gone over that edge, and how. Watch out for lower home values, interesting visitors at all hours, and impaired drivers bumping up on your curb if there is a pot dispensary hear you.

    Here’s a central question to pro pot people: after our society spent billions over decades trying to educate citizens to the dangers of tobacco usage, we’re just going to roll over and allow society to smoke something else addictive that is worse for you? The hypocracy smells almost as bad as the pot!

    As for those of you touting the health benefits of weed, your high minded humanity is much more likely self serving. Take it from someone with MS who experiences daily pain: there are better more effective and legal remedies on the market, both over the counter and prescription, than cannabis.

    Progressives, awake! Just because something is new and semi-legal doesn’t mean you have to blindly accept it.

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    tell you what scribendi do your research before you post next time you don’t have to smoke marijuana you can vaporize or eat it. Also it’s not physically addictive and does not cause cancer because it’s not growing in radioactive pesticides. There has never been one known death caused from marijuana and if you can find it prove it. So anyway please educate yourself before you start spouting off and you won’t look so ignorant.

  • bridge to somewhere March 21, 2011 (2:24 pm)

    @bigjimbob: speaking of doing one’s research before posting, it isn’t primarily the pesticides that are indicated in tobacco-associated lung cancer; organically-grown tobacco would still cause lung cancer, for carcinogens would still be in the smoke. Furthermore, there have been peer-reviewed scientific studies linking majijuana smoking to increased probabilities of lung cancer; for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18238947?ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (2:46 pm)

    first off I never said that only tobacco sprayed with radioactive pesticides would cause cancer. I just know that it’s been proven that it does in a higher rate. Second of all your studies like three years old and really didn’t prove anything it was all probability you think maybe that thousands of studies they’ve done with thousands of people not your little study that you Google they would have found something not probabilities. Good luck with your propaganda,

  • furor scribendi March 21, 2011 (2:51 pm)

    @bigjimbob: speaking of doing one’s research before posting… you can’t prove your point by attacking me. Marijuana is a depressant, like alcohol. The obituaries are full of people who get stoned and kill themselves and others, including one stoner who killed himself and a friend of mine five years ago. Breathing smoke of any kind isn’t good for your lungs; there are plenty of studies showing it is addictive. I’ve got neighbors who would rather light their bong up than feed their three kids, who are over at my house some nights. Ignorant? I’m much better informed than you appear. Hey, why do you think they call it dope?

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    what’s it called when you judge somebody for somebody else’s actions?I knew a guy that ate too much and killed himself. Guess we better ban food and believe me if your neighbors didn’t smoke pot they would still be lazy losers. I am and know people who are smokers who are very very responsible people and somehow managed to feed their children and pay their mortgage payment. So you lives in a bad neighborhood with a bunch of losers don’t blame it on pot blame it on your social standing.

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    by the way scribendi maybe you should think about being responsible and calling Child protective services if their children are being neglected! Which I would’ve done a long time ago.

  • cho March 21, 2011 (3:38 pm)

    Be Nice people.

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (4:06 pm)

    you’re right I apologize to anyone I may have offended and have a great week.

  • JanS March 21, 2011 (6:16 pm)

    bigjimbob…I’m there right with you. I am a 64 yo woman, who just finished her 2nd 6 month chemo in 5 years. And, yes, I hve a dispensary that I go to. Now, let’s clarify things, people. You cannot…I repeat…cannot walk in off the street and make a purchase. And…there is no “card” . You must get a letter on special paper from your doctor, and you must take it with you wherever and whenever you shop. And, yes, you don’t have to smoke it. Youj can use a vaporizer, or edibles..including pasta, pasta sauce, cupcakes, fudge, cookies, butter, olive oil…yep, a lot of stuff. And, for those who think there’s only one kind of “pot”…wrong again…There’s some that will help with insomnia, there’s a different kind that will help with nausea, appetite, and there are combinations in between. I guarantee you, it was an education for me. It is NOT a “gateway” drug..and we’re not all doped up losers out here. Just your average, run of the mill business owners, workers, parents, grandmas and grandpas.

  • bigjimbob March 21, 2011 (9:06 pm)

    JanS you are in my thoughts and prayers stay strong and you will overcome.

  • JanS March 21, 2011 (9:27 pm)

    thanks, BJB…likewise :)

  • Ace March 22, 2011 (4:43 am)

    California Ave is mostly Commercial/Residential mixed zoning. The amount of bars and dispensary that have opened show vices still a good start up in bad times. Off duty SPD hired as security through the police guild would be a wonderful way to rest community concerns.

  • beenthere March 22, 2011 (5:22 pm)

    I have been to this dispensary twice for my meds and thought the lack of security was glaring. It was just a matter of time.

    In order for this program to work a safe environment must be created for patients and providers.

    The dispensary in Alki has a better idea, I think. The entrance/waiting room has a security window like you see at the bank and the actual dispensary is a separate room.

    Cannabis is real medicine and does not have the long list of possible, lethal side-effects like just most drugs advertised on TV.

  • Seattleseabug March 22, 2011 (10:41 pm)

    It would be a shame if Game Collective had to have some bank security window, I go to regular pharmacies all the time and do not speak to someone through a security window. The reason Game is so nice is the people are knowledgable and the atmosphere is professional and friendly. I would feel much more nervous with the bank vault feeling so I hope they make the changes they need to but not go that direction.
    Like someone said in an earlier post, every business that has money or something people want is vulnerable, especially in this economy when people are desperate.

  • beenthere March 23, 2011 (8:47 am)

    seattleseabug, I agree that the Game Collective is knowledgeable and friendly and probably seemed like easy pickings to the robbers because of their lack of security. All I’m saying is the dispensaries need to ensure that when I walk in the door there isn’t going to be an armed robbery taking place. I hate security windows too, and lines at the airport etc but it is the way things are now. Pharmaseed hardly feels like a bank vault but more like an doctor’s clinic.

  • bigjimbob March 23, 2011 (10:53 am)

    unfortunately if you put in security windows instead of robbing the co-op they will rob patients on the way out the door.

Sorry, comment time is over.