Man poses as police officer during robbery

MARYSVILLE — Police in Marysville are investigating a Thursday night robbery reportedly committed by a man posing as an officer and wearing SWAT gear.

The victims, 51 and 34, said the man got out of a car, pointed a handgun at them and said “Task Force.” He then allegedly ordered them out of their car and to stand near a storage shed in a parking lot at the corner of 88th Street and State Avenue.

A witness called police around 7:30 p.m. to report a man pointing a gun at someone in a car at that location. It was a passenger in the 911 caller’s car — the man’s 11-year-old daughter — who saw what happened and convinced him to alert police. When the real officers arrived, they found two men standing with their bodies facing the shed and their heads turned away from it, Marysville police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said.

“They first officer on scene shone his spotlight on the subjects but they did not move,” Lamoureux said.

The officer got out of his patrol car and ordered the men to show their hands.

When he asked them what they were doing, they explained they were following another police officer’s orders.

One of the men told Marysville officers: “The cop told us to stand here and not to move.”

The victims explained that one of the men had come to the parking lot to sell a food stamp EBT card.

While in their car, a dark-colored passenger vehicle with tinted windows pulled up. That’s when the man identified himself as being part of a “task force.” He stole “a large amount of cash” from one of the victims’ wallets, Lamoureux said.

Neither victim heard the suspect drive off.

Witnesses told police they saw what looked like an undercover police officer outfitted with SWAT gear patting down two people next to a shed in the parking lot.

The suspect was wearing what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest with the word SWAT on it. There was a badge on his hip.

Witnesses indicated the man drove off a minute or two before police arrived. He was driving what appeared to be a dark Volkswagen Passat.

The suspect is described as stocky, white and about 5 foot 10. He had short dark hair.

He’s under investigation for robbery, impersonating a police officer and other crimes.

“We will charge whatever we can,” Lamoureux said. “The public is conditioned to trust police officers and respond accordingly to that trust. Something like this creates confusion and uncertainty and that really can escalate a situation. It puts the public at risk and law enforcement at risk.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Marysville detectives at 360-363-8350.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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