An alleged jewelry thief was held at gunpoint by a witness who initially chased the man, became cornered and felt compelled to draw his weapon.
Andonis D. Thompson, 41, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree theft on Monday after he allegedly ran off with two rings he’d been inspecting at J.C. Penney at Vancouver Mall.
Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said a person witnessed the theft, so he pursued Thompson into the parking lot of a nearby hotel. That witness was cornered near a fence at the hotel, she said.
“The suspect then started coming toward the citizen, which put him in fear for his safety. The citizen, who has a concealed weapons permit, displayed his firearm and asked bystanders to call police,” Kapp said.
The citizen was determined to have pulled out his gun in self-defense, Kapp said. She added that police advise against pursuing suspects, especially for property crimes.
“Call 911, provide as much detail as possible and let law enforcement respond. These types of encounters can be dangerous, and we don’t want citizens getting hurt unnecessarily,” she said.
A Vancouver police officer was dispatched at 6:37 p.m. to the incident.
The investigation found that a store employee believed they were helping Thompson select a ring for his girlfriend. Thompson claimed he wanted to check the clarity of two chosen rings, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“While doing so, a witness made a joke, ‘Now, don’t you run off with those.’ (The employee) stated right at that moment, the suspect looked straight at her and then started to flee toward the exit,” the affidavit says.
A family who saw what happened tried to block Thompson from running away, but he escaped, according to the affidavit. That’s when one of the witnesses continued to chase Thompson and ended up keeping him contained until officers arrived in the area.
Police recovered the two rings, which were valued at around $12,000.
Thompson made a first appearance Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court. Judge Gregory Gonzales granted supervised release in the case; an arraignment hearing is scheduled for March 9.