by: John Knicely Updated:
SEATTLE - SWAT flash bang grenades shook a South Park neighborhood Tuesday morning as police arrested three suspects in an overnight armed robbery at a medical marijuana growing school.
Jason Semer survived after having his hands and face duct taped and a gun pointed at his face.
Semer said he was checking on the plants at ACCTech medical marijuana growing school early Tuesday morning. He was on the phone with a friend when three men broke into the building. He immediately put the phone between his legs.
"They pointed a gun on my face and told me to get on the ground," said Semer. "They duct taped my face so I couldn't see them and duct taped my hands behind my back."
His friend was still on the other line and heard the whole thing. He called 911 and, Semer said, several minutes later Seattle police pounded on the door. The robbers scrambled and Semer made his break.
"I broke the tape and my head was all bandaged up but I know where my front door is, so I unlocked it and ran outside," he said. "At the same time I opened the door they were chasing after me."
Semer was greeted by police officers who got him out and quickly caught two suspects. Police say the third suspect ran back inside the building. After several hours of commands, the SWAT team went in and found him hiding in the ceiling.
Other recent crimes have targeted marijuana businesses. In late April, three North Seattle medical marijuana businesses were broken into in two days.
KIRO 7 asked the King County Prosecutor' Office and Sheriff's Office for statistics on crimes targeting marijuana businesses. They said that they don't break down statistics that way, but a sheriff's spokesperson said they regularly see home invasion robberies targeting medical marijuana grow operations.
Semer says he knew the risks involved when he got into medical marijuana growing.
"You become a target, so what we teach at the school is anonymity and safety, not letting everybody know," he said. "Growing a garden worth that much money, there's a risk involved."