Fircrest police arrest espresso stand robber

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:

FIRCREST, Wash. - A Fircrest barista grabbed her cellphone and ran to hide in a bathroom after spotting a man in a mask on the espresso stand’s surveillance camera.

Samantha Estes was opening Café Elite near Tacoma Community College just before 5 a.m. Friday, when she spotted the armed robber on camera.

“Right then when I saw he was wearing a mask, that’s when I knew he was going to rob me,” Estes said.

Estes hid in a bathroom inside the espresso stand and called 911 as the robber, armed with a knife, jumped the counter and looked around for cash. He fumbled with the cash register but couldn’t figure out how to work it.

“He was too stupid to realize how to open the cash register so he didn’t get anything from there,”Estes said.

The man finally grabbed Estes’ purse, then tried to kick down the bathroom door where she was hiding.

Estes said she yelled that police were on the way and the man ran from the stand.

Fircrest police arrived about a minute after the 911 call was placed and tracked down the suspect a few blocks away, intoxicated and unconscious.

The contents of Estes’ purse were scattered around him.

Police arrested Kristian Schmelzle on a robbery charge.

Estes said she has worked as a barista for years and this was the first time she had been robbed.

“It was really scary, I’ve never been held up, never had anything like this happen before. It was definitely terrifying,” Estes said.