Three suspects arrested in alleged armed robbery
An armed robbery early Sunday at Redstone Towne Center was likely part of a gang initiation ceremony, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said.
"What exactly that means, it’s difficult to say for certain," he said, adding, "all of them were either involved in gang activity or they were in the direct process of trying to gain gang affiliation."
Three juveniles a girl and two boys — between the ages of 15 and 17 robbed a man in his 20s at gunpoint while the victim was leaving his job at Cold Stone Creamery, Edmunds said, adding that the suspects stole the victim’s wallet and a bank bag containing more than $900 from the business.
"All of the [suspects] have either been charged with aggravated robbery or conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery," Edmunds said, adding that no shots were fired at the scene. "Also, we’re talking about federal crimes as well if they are indeed illegal immigrants."
Park City resident Jesse Whiting wasn’t aware Monday that one of his colleagues at Redstone was allegedly robbed at the shopping center.
"It’s kind of scary," said Whiting, a 21-year-old who works at Hapa Grill. "I’m a server and I walk out of here with straight cash."
Whiting demonstrated how a metal key chain shaped like a snowboard could be used in self-defense.
"Have your keys in your hand," Whiting advised. "If you have your keys in your hand, it’s a weapon number one, number two, it’s a defense to get in your car and lock the door and drive away."
The victim was not injured in the alleged holdup and the suspects, who are from western Summit County, were reportedly booked into a youth detention facility in Salt Lake.
"They ambushed the individual, stuck the gun to his person and forced him back into the vehicle," Edmunds said, adding that a 22-caliber pistol, two knives and a mask were recovered from the suspects’ getaway car. "We do have that firearm in our custody."
Detectives are tracking a serial number on the gun to identify whether the weapon was used in other crimes, the sheriff said.
"We feel like this was an inside job," Edmunds said. "We do believe that these individuals had inside information on perhaps what the proceeds were on a Saturday night, what time the establishment closed and possibly some information on the victim."
Edmunds praised his deputies and Utah Highway Patrol troopers for stopping the suspects as they sped from the scene of the alleged robbery.
"These guys didn’t make it more than two blocks before they were taken down," the sheriff said, adding that the victim called 911 after he was robbed.
Edmunds insists the suspects should be prosecuted as adults, adding, "I expect the suspects in this case will receive significant prison time if they are charged as adults."
"We certainly are going to look at that if the facts are there that support filing under the serious youth offender act, I will," Summit County Attorney David Brickey said about the possibility of charging the suspects as adults.
Meanwhile, Redstone will remain a popular place to see movies and shop, Snyderville Basin resident Tawnya Fox said while browsing Monday near the ice cream shop that was allegedly robbed.
"But it’s kind of scary that that kind of thing would happen here," 15-year-old Baylee Fox replied. "It’s frightening everybody my age goes here for movies, all the time."
Tawnya added, "I think the bigger Park City gets, probably the more crime we’ll have."
"I love the shopping center, but I think it brings more people to town and it’s right off the freeway," she said.
Park City resident Lee Gitlin, a former private investigator, agreed.
"I-80’s just an artery between Salt Lake and here," he said, while shopping Monday at Redstone.
The proximity of Snyderville to the Wasatch Front is the root of gang problems in the area, Edmunds said.
"The gang members are starting to target Summit County to establish their crime syndicates," the sheriff said. "This is a very good example of the type of violent crime that gang members are known for."
The armed robbery at Redstone was a challenge to officers in the area, Edmunds added.
"If you come here, you are going to get caught very quickly. We are waiting for you and we are certainly willing to do whatever it takes to shut you down," he responded
Detectives recovered the money stolen from the business and the victim’s wallet, Edmunds said.
"You live in Summit County with the idea of having the occasional threat of moose, now you have to worry about the threat of [gang members]," Brickey said. "It’s really discouraging."
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