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Police nab suspect in Black Rock robberies

Police say Merle Stedman is man responsible for multipe robberies of Tigard coffee shops and area Cricket Wireless stores.


StedmanA man believed to have robbed Tigard coffee shops, returning to the same shop more than once in the space of two weeks, has been arrested.

Police say Merle “Dee” Stedman, 24, of Tigard has been targeting coffee shops and Cricket Wireless stores in Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro since May, including the drive-up Black Rock Coffee shop on Pacific Highway as well as several other stores across the county.

Police were led to Stedman after he allegedly robbed a Beaverton Cricket Wireless Store at gunpoint on Saturday.

The suspect reportedly hit a female employee in the face and forced her into a large box before fleeing the store with cash and Bluetooth devices.

MejiaA witness saw the robbery and was able to tell police the license plate of the getaway car.

Police searched for the vehicle, which belonged to Stedman’s 26-year-old sister Stena Mae Mejia, of Aloha, and found stolen identification from an Oct. 23 robbery at Dutch Bros. Coffee in Tigard.

Police arrested Stedman on Sunday.

A search of his home led police to ultimately link him to six armed robberies in Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro.

Stedman allegedly approached the Dutch Bros. Coffee, 11746 S.W. Pacific Highway, on Oct. 23, wearing a face mask and carrying a large hunting knife.

The suspect demanded money, a wallet and phone from a female employee.

Four days later, Stedman allegedly robbed the Black Rock coffee shop, 13590 S.W. Pacific Highway, then returned two weeks later — this time brandishing a handgun — and robbed the shop again.

After his arrest, police said Stedman helped police find a black handgun replica he used in the robberies.

The gun — a black  pellet gun made to look like a 1911 semi-automatic handgun — was hidden in a wooded area, police said.

Regular customers held a 'cash mob' at Black Rock coffee shop on Sunday to show their support for the shop.

Participants were asked to donate $10 to $20 to the shop, and the store raised hundreds of dollars in just a few hours.

The coffee shop’s owner Justin Lesher told The Times last week that the support he has already received from the community has been great.

“One reason why I started this business was to support school fundraisers and sports teams, and here we are having the community of Tigard supporting us,” Lesher said. “I think that’s really amazing, and we feel very blessed to have the customers we do.”

Police also linked Stedman to a robbery at a Cricket Wireless store on Allen Boulevard in Beaverton on May 12 and Saturday, and another Cricket store in Hillsboro on Nov. 14, the same day as the second Black Rock robbery.

“The success of this investigation was the result of the collaborative efforts of Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro police departments,” said Sgt. Jim Shumway, a Beaverton police spokesman. “All three departments expended resources and personnel to assist in this investigation. This case is a good example of the collaborative efforts of these three agencies working together to accomplish the goal.”

Stedman is charged with three counts of first-degree robbery and three counts of second-degree robbery.

Stedman’s sister Mejia is believed to be a getaway driver in at least one of the robberies, Beaverton police said. She faces one count of first-degree robbery.




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