Stanwood police track suspect in assault on veteran

STANWOOD — The victim was 73 years old, an Army veteran living near Stanwood.

On June 7, he was folding clothes at a laundromat in the Viking Village shopping center.

Unbeknownst to him, a man in his 20s was watching, with ill intentions.

The suspect “came up behind him in the laundromat, hit him in the back and demanded his keys and wallet and everything he had,” Stanwood Police Chief Rick Hawkins said.

A struggle ensued.

The older man was tumbled over a laundry cart. He suffered five broken ribs.

The suspect took off with the victim’s pickup truck.

The robbery was reported about 4:45 p.m.

Stanwood deputy Tracy Peckham was almost off her shift, Hawkins said.

She had to act quickly, to gather enough information to give the night shift something to go on.

“We didn’t have a lot,” Hawkins said. “We didn’t have a license plate to start with.”

The victim could provide some details, but he was pretty shook up, Stanwood Sgt. Ryan Gausman said.

Deputy Adam Malaby had the graveyard shift that night. He had a description of the stolen truck and the suspect.

The robber had last been seen in the truck, southbound on 88th Avenue NW, running a red light to cross Highway 532, Hawkins said.

Malaby has been a police officer for 16 years. He previously worked in directed patrol for the sheriff’s office, a unit that targets criminals deemed most likely to cause harm.

Malaby also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He called Gausman, his boss, on the sergeant’s day off.

Malaby told Gausman: “I decided I’m going to find that guy.”

“We get incidents all the time where we’re looking for suspects, but what happened, that struck a chord with him,” Gausman said.

Malaby knew that Island Crossing was a place where stolen cars show up, so he headed south. There was the truck, ditched outside a gas station.

“He knew it was a good place to look,” Gausman said.

“And it worked,” Hawkins said.

Malaby started talking to folks in the area. He told them about who he was looking for.

A man matching that description happened to be in the gas station.

Malaby called for backup. The man was interviewed, along with several others.

The investigation is ongoing, Hawkins said Thursday. Detective Johan Kingsberry is building a case, piece by piece.

Police obtained a judge’s permission to search the recovered truck. Evidence inside could help them make an arrest, Hawkins said. The case file is more than a half-inch thick, and that’s not all of it, either.

The victim is recovering.

Malaby’s instincts came in handy, Hawkins said.

“It was good police work, simple as that,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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