EVERETT — It came in as a home invasion robbery report involving three men bursting into a north Everett home claiming to be police officers.
Six months later, the real police believe they have caught up with one of the suspects — thanks to a lost baseball cap and DNA testing.
A Kirkland man, 48, was arrested and booked into the Snohomish County Jail Tuesday for investigation of first-degree robbery. He’s being held on $250,000 and has a previous conviction for armed robbery on his lengthy rap sheet.
Three people were sleeping in an apartment in the 2300 block of Grand Avenue on the morning of Aug. 16. Two of them woke to the sound of someone outside the front door yelling, “Police!” court papers said. Moments later, the door was kicked open and three men entered the apartment.
At least one of the intruders was armed with what appeared to be a firearm, according to court papers.
Two of the renters — a man and woman — were forced into their bedroom where the robbers allegedly attempted to restrain the man with a set of zip ties. The man resisted. He reportedly was hit on the head with a handgun, which knocked him to the floor and left a cut.
The man was able to get up and escape from the apartment. He ran to a nearby home and asked the people living there to call 911.
The robbers reportedly left with a safe. They left behind zip ties and the baseball hat one of them had been wearing.
The cap was sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab for genetic testing. Results came back with a DNA match to the suspect arrested Tuesday.
“In his case we had good patrol-level work as well as solid detective work,” Everett police officer Aaron Snell said. “Ultimately, the hat broke the case.”
Detectives included the man’s photo in a montage shown to the man and woman who were robbed. Each independently identified him as one of the men who broke into their apartment, court papers said.
Detectives are continuing to work on identifying the other two suspects, Snell said.
Cases involving police impostors are rare, he added.
It didn’t take the victims long to become suspicious.
“Typically we have our badges. We have our patches. We work in a professional manner,” Snell said. “I think the m.o. of these people was completely different.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org