On Monday, January 15th, at 4:03 pm, an armed bandit held up the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store at S.E. 41st and Powell Boulevard. The robber then evidently motored westward, because he stuck up the Subway Sandwich shop at S.E. 12th and Powell Blvd. 39 minutes later. On February 2nd, he struck again--at a Radio Shack store in Eastport Plaza on S.E. 82nd near Holgate; six days later, at 7:50 pm, he held up the Woodstock Radio Shack store at S.E. 44th and Woodstock Boulevard.
In each case, and in many more, according to Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, the suspect represented himself as having a weapon and demanded money.
On Wednesday, February 14th at about 1 pm, while others were celebrating Valentine's Day, the suspect--39-year-old Steven Michael Stroud--was being stopped and arrested in Clackamas County. In the car with him, and charged with being an accomplice in a long string of holdups, was 25-year-old Heather Nicole Pruitt, and 'two unidentified minor children' were in the car too, now in state custody.
Lt. Bill Kohlmeyer of the Salem Police Department says that Stroud was identified as a suspect 'when a citizen noticed a suspicious white Ford Escort near a Lancaster Drive Walgreen's Drug Store and wrote the license number down.'
Detective Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office picks up the story: 'The arrest of these two robbery suspects was conducted during a traffic stop that had been initiated by the Portland Police Bureau, while being assisted by members of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. The suspect vehicle was stopped after departing from the address 4524 S.E. Roethe Road in Milwaukie.'
Strovink adds, 'Investigators reveal that both Pruitt and Stroud openly admit to a heroin habit--a heroin habit that commands at least $90.00 a day to sustain.'
The arrests involved three different agencies, with the Salem Police joining the Portland Police and Clackamas County Sheriff's Office in the investigation. In addition to being charged with the four Inner Southeast robberies already noted, the pair are also charged with a January 20th stickup of a Subway Sandwich shop at 21st and West Burnside, two separate robberies of the same Subway shop at 10713 S.E. 82nd, Denney's at 12101 S.E. 82nd, a Shari's Restaurant in Wilsonville, a Denny's Restaurant at 3680 Market Street N.E. in Salem, and a Salem Walgreen's Drug Store at 1992 Lancaster Drive in Salem.
The Portland Tribune, sister newspaper to THE BEE, reported in a story by Jacob Quinn Sanders and Nick Budnick on February 16th that 'Stroud is a reformed racist skinhead who co-founded Oregon Spotlight, a group formerly affiliated with Portland State University that is dedicated to investigating and wiping out hate crime . . . He left the white supremacist movement 16 years ago and has appeared on television with Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jesse Raphael.'
The couple was arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court at 3 pm on Thursday, February 15th 'for the related charged mentioned and identified as robbery,' reports Strovink. 'These are Measure Eleven crimes with zero bail.'
In addition, according to Sgt. Brian Schmautz, 'The case will also be presented to a Multnumah County Grand Jury.'