Movie fans at the Spokane Valley Mall were evacuated from their theaters Friday night after a man armed with a rifle or shotgun robbed a video arcade next door.
Anybody who is willing to do a small change robbery at a video arcade may also be desperate enough to hide out from responding police in the darkness of a theater, and so the decision was made to turn off the films and turn up the lights.
“When someone is willing to take those steps to go into a business with a long gun, we're unsure if it was a rifle or a shotgun, and actually point it at an employee, rob them and then leave the premises, obviously that's an extremely dangerous person,” said Deputy Craig Chamberlin with Spokane Valley Police Department.
Deputies worried that if that person didn't want to be spotted running to his getaway car, he may have slipped into the Regal Cinemas next door and waited for things to cool off.
“We wanted to make sure the folks in the movie theater were safe. We evacuated it, looked for our suspect and fortunately were not able to find him,” Deputy Chamberlin said.
The suspect is very similar to the man who also used a long gun to rob a Spokane Valley Zip Trip on Wednesday.
In fact, when we showed witnesses the surveillance photo from that incident, they said it's the same man who held up the arcade last night.
“And we have to look at a possible connection because the M.O. They way he went in, the way he brandished the weapon and the clothing he wore… almost identical,” said Deputy Chamberlin.
Deputy Chamberlin says in 99% of these armed robberies the suspect is a drug addicted thief trying to raise enough cash to support his habit.
There is surveillance video from the arcade robbery. Major Crimes detectives will be releasing that video later this week.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for your help in solving this case. You can call them without leaving your name at 1-800-222-TIPS.