Alleged Basalt Clark’s robber a former employee
BASALT, Colorado – The man who allegedly robbed Clark’s Market on Sunday night was a former employee of the grocery store who was recognized by a cashier when he pulled a gun on her, Basalt Police Sgt. Roderick O’Connor said Monday.
Jonas Garcia Leon Jr., 28, was arrested at his house on Homestead Drive in Basalt 16 minutes after police received the dispatch call about the robbery, O’Connor said. The quick arrest was possible because the cashier and two other workers in the store provided police with an identification of the suspect and the general location of his residence. The store employees knew the suspect as “Junior,” according to police.
Leon was cooperative with Basalt officer Jeni Newcomb and Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Parker Lathrop when they went to the home Leon shares with other people. The officers read him his rights and received consent to search him, according to O’Connor. In his pockets they allegedly found the handgun he used in the robbery and more than $1,000 in a Clark’s grocery bag, O’Connor said.
Newcomb told other officers that Leon was still sweating after apparently dashing uphill to his residence from Clark’s after the heist. The market is located in the downtown area. Homestead Drive is in the Hill District a block above downtown. Officers arrived so quickly that Leon probably didn’t have a chance to count his money.
“It’s got to be like a record or something,” O’Connor said of the quick arrest.
Leon was arrested for aggravated robbery, a class-three felony; theft of more than $1,000, a class-four felony; and menacing, a class V felony. He was advised of his rights in Eagle County District Court Monday.
He is being held in Eagle County Jail on $15,000 bond.
The Clark’s Market incident was Basalt’s second armed robbery this winter. The manager of the Basalt 7-Eleven was robbed at knifepoint Dec. 19. The manager was unhurt. A suspect was arrested on New Year’s Eve when the convenience store manager spotted the man at a party at a bar.
Police couldn’t answer why Leon allegedly targeted his former place of employment – where some members of his extended family are employed – for robbery, since he was well known among workers there. O’Connor said the arrest happened so fast that investigators haven’t had a chance yet to find out when Leon worked at the grocery store and the circumstances of his departure.
A store manager said Leon worked 18 to 24 months ago, police said.
“He walked out on us,” according to someone familiar with Leon’s past employment at the store. Leon has been back in the store as a customer since quitting, the person said.
O’Connor said investigators learned Leon hasn’t worked in about two months, but he seemed to have a strong support group around him at the residence.
According to police, Leon entered Clark’s at about 8:44 p.m. and approached a cashier with a demand for money. He was dressed in a jacket, was wearing a “beanie” and had a yellow bandanna pulled over his face “like a cowboy,” according to O’Connor. The cashier recognized Leon and didn’t take the robbery attempt seriously.
“She’s like, ‘Are you kidding, are you kidding?'” O’Connor said. The robber came around the counter and took a .380 handgun out of his pocket, so she cashier collected and handed over the cash. She told investigators, “I thought he was going to shoot me if I didn’t give him the money,” O’Connor said.
There were four workers in the store. Two others allegedly witnessed the armed robbery and also identified Leon. No one was injured and no shots were fired. The suspect fled out the store’s front door.
O’Connor said investigators believe Leon went immediately to his bedroom in his home. The officers knocked on the door a short time later and were allowed to enter by roommates, who called to Leon to come upstairs. He appeared and talked with the officers, and consented to the search, according to the police report. “He admitted to robbing Clark’s,” O’Connor said.
Police believe Leon carried out the robbery alone.
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