2 charged with first-degree assault in old robbery

A guy selling marijuana online more than two years ago was shot after another man fled with the pot.

EVERETT — An Everett man tried selling $1,300 worth of marijuana on Craigslist, but a potential buyer robbed him and shot him outside a Taco Bell on Evergreen Way.

More than two years later, two men have been charged with first-degree assault and robbery. They’re at large.

The seller, 36, posted an ad on Craigslist that he had an ounce of weed for sale in May 2016, according to charging papers filed last month. Minutes later he got an interested reply over text message. But the buyer didn’t want just an ounce. He wanted 3 pounds.

The seller counteroffered. One pound, for $1,300.

The men agreed to meet at a Taco Bell parking lot, according to court papers.

There, the man hopped in the buyer’s Chevrolet Impala. The buyer grabbed the gallon-sized bag of pot out of its owner’s hands, without giving him cash. After a tense moment, the buyer said he’d wait in the car for his friend, who had the other half of the money, court papers say. The seller went back to his own car.

The friend showed up within 10 minutes in a white Ford Crown Victoria. He walked up to the seller and snatched the bag of weed, again, out of his hands, court records say. The thief ran back to his car, started the engine and backed out of the lot before the dealer could catch him. So the dealer confronted the original buyer, who quickly loaded a semiautomatic pistol, aimed it at the man’s gut and fired, according to the charges.

Police watched security footage. It matched up with the wounded man’s story.

Officers looked up the cellphone number of the man who had responded to the ad. It was linked to a 25-year-old who reported a Impala as stolen two months earlier. He’d served two years in prison for burglaries in 2013.

About a week later, an Everett police officer who had investigated the shooting saw a white Crown Victoria swerving on I-5. He pulled over the car. It smelled like fresh weed. The driver, 31, had the same address as the 25-year-old.

The officer suspected the man was involved in the shooting. He came up with a quick offer: Show up to a police station in three days with proof of insurance, and he’d give him a warning instead of a citation. Also, the officer asked for a current phone number. The driver readily agreed.

A detective obtained search warrants for the suspects’ phones. According to the charges, there were nine calls between them in the hours before the shooting. Then there were a couple of short calls to the Craigslist seller. And a dozen more calls between the friends, after the shooting.

Data showed the phones were near the Taco Bell at the time of the robbery. Months later, a detective tracked down a woman who knew the suspected shooter. She said the man had moved away, suddenly, in May 2016.

The suspected gunman is wanted on a $150,000 warrant. A summons was mailed to the alleged accomplice, ordering him to show up to an arraignment Sept. 13. Snohomish County prosecutors asked that a $100,000 warrant be issued for his arrest otherwise.

The shooting marked the second time in a year that someone was wounded by gunfire at that Taco Bell.

Three men were injured in a shooting in June 2015, when a gunman insulted another man’s pink bicycle, leading to a fight. Two of the wounded were bystanders.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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