Police arrest three in connection with robbery
For the second time in just over a month, Ahern's Grocery and Deli was robbed on Friday, Jan. 11, but this time, the suspects didn't get far.
"One was detained by Ag West, by the tractors, and one by Keith Brown (Building Materials)," said Madras Police Chief Tom Adams, adding that the third was arrested close-by at a trailer in the City Trailer Court on Northwest B Street.
Jose Armando Garcia-Toscano, 27, Leonel Garcia-Higareda, 23, and Daniel Romero-Gomez, 22, were arrested for second-degree robbery and lodged in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
The incident was reported at 6:42 p.m., when Jason Hale, owner of Ahern's and mayor of Madras, notified police that he had just been robbed by three men with a firearm.
Hale said that the men had been drinking in Ahern's Pub for a few hours, causing some problems, and then left the pub just before the robbery.
During a brief lull in business, one of the men entered the grocery store and bought a bag of cheese puffs, Hale recalled. As the first man left, another came in and held up the store with what appeared to be a handgun. Afterward, he recounted, the three unmasked men took off running with an undisclosed amount of money.
"Right after they left, I walked outside, while I dialed 911, and I saw them running right down the sidewalk from my store," Hale said. "Luckily, a deputy was driving by right then."
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deputy saw the men and pursued them, assisted by officers from the Madras Police Department and the Oregon State Police, who were soon on the scene.
The first of the three was caught just south of the Welcome to Madras monument, and the second, on Northwest B Street, near the City Trailer Court.
When the police had secured the perimeter around the trailer court, a search dog, "Mika," assisted by a Deschutes County deputy, responded to the location. The K9 deputy alerted to a particular trailer, where one of the previously detained suspects was staying.
Police found and arrested the third suspect in the trailer, where they also found evidence of the crime, and recovered some of the money.
"One guy held what looked like a real gun, and we recovered a realistic toy gun at the location, which we believe they used to do it," said Adams.
The men had recently moved to Oregon from California, Adams said, and were staying with a family that had nothing to do with the crime. One of the men is believed to have committed the Dec. 3 robbery at Ahern's.
Hale was a little embarrassed by the attention he received from the media. "It's not positive press," he said.
"Madras is a very secure place," Hale said, noting that he was frustrated that his business was struck twice. "It's so atypical. We have the lowest crime rate in Central Oregon. This kind of stuff just never happens."