Pepper Spray & Wig Failure Dooms Appleware Robbery – December 20, 2011
Kevin L. Hoover
PLAZA – Simply Macintosh employee Solomon Clark was selling a MacBook Pro and iPad to a customer this morning when the man suddenly thought different – but only about the paying-for-it part.
Clark said the customer had settled on the two items, and he was about to show him accessories when things took an unexpected turn.
“He was holding both, which seemed kind of weird, when I went to show him where the cases were,” Clark said. “I turned around and he was on his way out the door.”
Clark and fellow employee Hank Ketelsen gave chase as the man headed south, crossing Eighth Street to the area of the Arcata Post Office. Slowed in his escape by the boxes of Apple products he was toting, the fleeing suspect couldn’t outpace his pursuers.
When Clark and Ketelsen caught up with him, the suspect said, “Yo man, back off. I’m gonna shoot you with pepper spray,” Clark recalled.
At that point, a mail delivery vehicle drove up and Clark yelled, “He’s stealing stuff!” The postal employee then positioned the mail truck to block the suspect’s escape, but he eluded the blockage and then ran a down the alley behind the Post Office to the area of Seventh and I streets.
There, the fleeing thief was blocked again, by a citizen driving another truck. The citizen got out and confronted the suspect, who again threatened use of pepper spray. “He told the guy, ‘Back off, I’ll spray you!’ and the guy said, ‘I don’t care,'” Ketelsen recalled.
The suspect apparently tried to spritz the citizen with the pepper spray, but Ketelsen said there was a misfire of some sort. “Nothing came out,” he said.
As Clark, Ketelsen and the citizen struggled to restrain the man for police, another passerby who apparently thought the three were mugging someone came over to assist the suspect. “He didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t want to see someone hassled,” Ketelsen said.
But at that point, the suspect’s blonde wig, sunglasses and gray beanie fell off, and his ruse collapsed along with any well-intentioned passerby intervention. “You’re wearing a wig. I’m not going to help you,” the citizen said, according to Ketelsen.
Police arrived within a minute or so, Ketelsen said, and arrested Skylar Austin Moser, 22, of Arcata. All of the stolen property was recovered.
Moser was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked on charges of robbery, possession of tear gas over 2.5 ounces and use of a tear gas other than for self defense.