Gunman on the loose after armed robbery

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KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A suspect in an armed robbery at the former Roth’s building early Tuesday afternoon escaped.

Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns with the Keizer Police Department said his department received a call around 12:30 p.m. March 18 about an armed robbery inside the former Roth’s building, located in Schoolhouse Square at River and Chemawa Roads.

According to Kuhns, one employee of the Brinks armored vehicle called police and said his partner had been robbed while servicing the ATM from the inside.

“We learned the other employee had sheltered in place in the store,” Kuhns said. “He goes inside and at some point he is confronted by the armed male suspect. He was able to get into a room, locked the door and protected himself.”

Kuhns said the suspect was described as a white or Hispanic male, standing 5’11” with a medium build. He was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with the hood drawn tight, leaving little of his face visible.

Police shut down River Road from Sandy Drive to Chemawa at 12:40. Assistance soon came from Salem Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the FBI, in addition to the Salem SWAT team. In all, about 35 to 40 officers responded.

Employees at the GISI Marketing Group business, which shares a common wall with the Roth’s building, were soon evacuated as the perimeter was established. Officers evacuated other nearby businesses in the shopping area as well.

Police finally established contact with the Brinks driver, who drove his vehicle from the scene shortly past 1 p.m. SWAT team members arrived about an hour later. The Brinks employee who was inside was seen walking down Chemawa Road with a police officer around 2:15. Neither employee suffered any injuries and both were cooperating with authorities.

Shortly past 3 p.m., the scene was released and traffic was allowed to resume as normal.

Around 1, there was word the suspect had boarded the Route 9 Cherriots bus headed to Salem.

“Someone thought a person on bus 9 may have been associated with the incident,” Kuhns said. “We made a traffic stop and identified the person, who came off the bus willingly and is cooperating with authorities. There is no reason to believe he is the suspect.”

Since police established a perimeter soon after the first call, Kuhns said the suspect “most likely got out early” but the whole building had to be searched to make sure.

McNary High School was put into a security lockdown shortly after the incident started, with the lockdown lifted around 3.

Anyone with information can call the KPD at 503-390-3713.

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