News

Teenage robbery suspect taken at gunpoint

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

An armed gunman who terrorized employees at two Enumclaw businesses was arrested last week, walking from his apartment with hands held high as city police officers waited with guns drawn.

Taken into custody was 18-year-old Nathan Kirkpatrick, who was living with family members in an apartment complex near Enumclaw High School. He was charged Friday morning in King County Superior Court with first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and conspiracy.

Kirkpatrick is accused of two robberies and participating in an “inside job” that resulted in money stolen from a third city business.

About 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, a masked suspect pointed a gun at an employee of a small espresso stand at Griffin Avenue and Florence Street; he demanded cash and made off with an undisclosed amount. Two days earlier, the situation had played out at an espresso stand just north of the city limits on state Route 169.

The first incident came Feb. 23 when a young employee of the local Taco Time restaurant reported she had been robbed.

According to Det. Grant McCall of the Enumclaw Police Department, that's not quite how it went. Authorities believe Kirkpatrick cruised through the restaurant's drive-up window, where his teenage girlfriend worked. She allegedly handed him cash, then made up the robbery story.

As of Monday morning, the girl has not been charged, but legal action is coming.

The scenario was much more serious at the espresso stand robberies, according to Commander Eric Sortland.

“He told the clerks he would kill them if he didn't get the money,” Sortland said. “And he said if they told anybody, he would come back and kill them.”

Sortland said the brazen gunman had left the business community rattled, as word quickly spread of the armed robberies.

“There was a lot of alarm out there because of the violence,” Sortland said. “We were barraged with phone calls.”

In the end, it was the clerk and others involved with the final robbery that allowed police to make the arrest.

“We talked to the victim and other witnesses,” Sortland said, “and developed leads which we later verified.”

Convinced they had their man, police placed a phone call to the suspect's apartment. The conversation lasted about 30 minutes and, after being told the entire complex was surrounded by armed officers, Kirkpatrick stepped outdoors. He was not armed, but police found a handgun in the apartment.

Sortland said Kirkpatrick confessed to the three Enumclaw crimes and added that he was responsible for a robbery in the Kent area as well.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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