Serial shoplifting suspect charged with making death threats to Fred Meyer employees

KENT, RENTON, Wash. — A 66-year-old Kent man has been charged with felony harassment, accused of threatening to kill one employee at the Renton Fred Meyer and brandishing a handgun at a second employee.

Ethan Alvarez and Mike Cassatt both work as asset protection specialists at a Renton Fred Meyer on 108th Avenue SE. Cassatt is an Orting police officer who works at Fred Meyer when he is off duty.

According to charging documents, a suspect, later identified as Adolphus Washington, was known by employees at the Renton Fred Meyer to steal two bottles of liquor each time he entered the store, and Cassatt had been involved in at least one confrontation with Washington in Renton and recognized him from a similar incident when he worked at the Kent Fred Meyer.

Police said Cassatt and Alvarez were working at the Renton store on April 13 when sometime after 10:30 p.m., Alvarez saw Cassatt running toward the front door, and watched as Cassatt spoke with Washington.

Once the conversation was over, Alvarez followed Washington outside and watched as Washington made his way toward a car.

Court documents say:

"Alvarez then clearly heard Washington say, 'The next time I see that cop I'm gonna put a bullet in his head.'

"Alvarez later indicated that Washington said those words with the intent of being heard by him. Washington then began walking in the direction of Alvarez saying, 'You know what? You know what?'

" As he did so he lifted his shirt and pulled what Alvarez said appeared to be a handgun from his waist. Fearing that Washington would shoot at him, Alvarez grabbed fellow employee who was outside smoking but not paying attention to these events, and ran back into the store where he told Officer Cassatt about the Washington's threat with a gun."

Alvarez called 911, but Washington was gone, and at that time, his identity was not known, according to police.

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Police said on April 15, a bulletin containing photos from surveillance footage of the encounter between Cassette and Washington was distributed to local law enforcement, including the Kent police, in an effort to identify the suspect.

On, April 13, Washington was detained at a Kent Fred Meyer for putting tinfoil on the security sensor of a bottle of liquor and concealing it, then walking past all registers without paying, court papers said.

The detained man's driver’s license identified him as Adolphus Washington, investigators said.

A Kent officer was called to investigate, and another Kent officer, who had seen the bulletin of the Renton incident, notified the responding officer and requested that a Renton officer come to the scene as well.

The Renton officer saw Washington and determined that he was the same person from the bulletin, and he was arrested, according to officers.

An asset protection specialist at the Kent Fred Meyer showed the Kent officer an internal report that listed Washington as having been detained by various Fred Meyer stores in the area 13 times for shoplifting, charging documents say.

In addition, the Kent Police Department had a record that showed Washington had been trespassed for life from the Kent Fred Meyer Store on 240th Street, police said.  He has also been trespassed from the Renton store.

Court records show that since 1987, Washington has prior convictions for robbery, burglary, forgery, vehicle prowling, possession of stolen property, receiving stolen property and nearly two dozen convictions for theft.