‘My employee saved multiple lives’: Pot shop robbery suspect killed after taking hostage

COVINGTON, Wash. — Criminals have been targeting pot shops and a recent string of violent robberies have employees on edge.

In the most recent case in Covington, a suspect took an employee at Euphorium hostage on Thursday just before 8 p.m. It’s a robbery attempt that ended with the suspect getting shot and killed by another store employee.

“It’s awful for everyone,” said Ryan Evans, the director of operations at Euphorium cannabis stores. “I’ve never seen a situation where the hostage is taken first outside then brought in,” he said.

The King County Sheriff’s Office says the person killed is a man in his mid 20s.

Surveillance video of the incident was captured by cameras at both Euphorium and Rehv Arms Gun Shop next door. The businesses are holding off on sharing the video for now, but showed KIRO7 the clip.

In the video, you see a Euphorium employee getting out of his car. A suspect who appeared to be watching then crossed the parking lot and followed the employee, approaching him from behind. He puts his arm around the employee, then tightens the grip to a chokehold. In that position, the two walk together a short distance to the front door of Euphorium. There is a security guard at the front door.

“Our employee had a gun to his head,” Evans said.

“The perpetrator said he was going to rob the store,” said Lindsey Evans, the general manager of the store.

It was another nearby employee who checks IDs who saw all of this unfold. That’s when he took action. The store says he had a concealed carry and opened fire, shooting the suspect.

“My employee saved multiple lives,” Lindsey Evans said. “Anybody who would put their life out there to protect somebody else is absolutely a hero. I know he’s a family man himself and he’s just a really wonderful man,” she said.

Jim Fuda, the executive director of CrimeStoppers of Puget Sound says robberies have been getting more brazen.

“They have been escalating where victims have been pistol-whipped, guns to their head, put in chokeholds, shot. And so you see it definitely escalating as more and more are occurring,” Fuda said.

Fuda says in this case, things could have turned out much worse.

“It would be very tough to shoot somebody like that and not worry about hitting the victim that was in the chokehold there. So it was lucky all the way around that only the suspect was killed,” Fuda said.

Euphorium says employees have been on edge and are even more shaken up now.

“They’ve been out in this every day knowing there’s a chance someone could come in here and rob them,” Lindsey Evans said.

They’re hoping for more support from the state, where a bill that would have increased prison time for convicted pot shop robbers failed to pass in the legislature this year.

“It’s frustrating. It’s extremely frustrating,” Ryan Evans said.

Meanwhile, they’re thanking the employee who acted quickly.

“Anyone who takes a hostage outside probably has bad intentions for when they get inside. So we’re really glad he was with us,” Ryan Evans said.

CrimeStoppers says cannabis store owners have teamed up to raise a $10,000 reward for an anonymous tip that leads to an arrest and charge for open robbery cases. You can submit a tip by calling (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

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