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Feb. 24, 2024

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Tip, surveillance video led Vancouver police to man fatally shot in Vancouver parking lot

James Wilson was suspected in Allen’s Crosley Lanes burglary and convenience store armed robberies

By , Columbian staff reporter

An anonymous tip, surveillance video and 1½ weeks of investigation led Vancouver police to Joshua James Wilson, who was killed May 30 in the parking lot of a central Vancouver shopping center as officers attempted to arrest him.

The Vancouver Police Department said Wilson, 43, was wanted for multiple armed robberies. Wilson was identified as a suspect in a May 20 burglary at Allen’s Crosley Lanes, 2400 E. Evergreen Blvd., and May 21 and 29 armed robberies at convenience stores at 6510 E. Mill Plain Blvd., and 1901 Kauffman Ave., respectively, according to investigators.

A search warrant affidavit filed May 23 in Clark County Superior Court states Wilson and another man, identified by police as Brian Schafer, were wanted for first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary. (Court records do not indicate Schafer has been arrested or charged.)

Vancouver police responded at 5:20 a.m. May 20 to a report of a burglary at the bowling alley. An employee reported a man was inside the building when he came to open the bowling alley, according to the affidavit. Surveillance photos posted to the bowling alley’s Facebook page showed two men it said burglarized the business.

When officers arrived, the burglars were gone, but police found broken door handles and a safe that had been cut but not successfully opened. Officers said there was likely about $750 worth of damage, but nothing of value was missing, court records state.

The burglars also left behind a backpack. Inside were tools, a container that police believed held drugs, a bag with 10 9mm rounds and a note that said, “Put $30,000 in the bag. No dye packs or tracers or I’ll be back,” the affidavit states.

Surveillance video showed a man, later identified as Wilson, emerge from a party room at about 4 a.m. Investigators said that likely meant he hid inside after closing. Wilson appeared to have a weapon tucked in his waistband and was wearing purple latex gloves, according to court records.

The next day, Vancouver police responded at 5:14 p.m. to a Mobil Gas Station on Mill Plain Boulevard for a reported robbery. A clerk said a man pulled out a pistol and demanded money and cigarettes. The robber then ran from the store. The clerk later told officers she gave the robber $130 from the register and two packs of cigarettes, valued at $12 each, according to the affidavit.

A witness told officers they saw a man running on Kansas Street toward a Ford sedan. Surveillance footage from a nearby church captured a man approaching the car in the church’s parking lot. Before getting into the passenger’s seat, the suspect could be seen removing his hood and a blond wig from his head. The video showed the man, later identified as Wilson, was bald. The car then drove away, court records state.

On May 23, an anonymous tipster said they knew one of the bowling alley burglary suspects shown in the business’ Facebook post as “Brian” — later identified by police as Schafer — and gave officers his address, according to the affidavit.

After reviewing the Facebook photos, officers determined the other burglar they later identified as Wilson also appeared to be the May 21 convenience store robber, the affidavit states.

Police surveilled the address provided by the tipster. When investigators called for people to exit the residence, Schafer’s wife emerged. She identified Schafer and Wilson as the bowling alley burglars, according to the affidavit.

The woman told police Wilson had been living with them for a few weeks, but he moved out May 23. She also identified the Ford that picked up Wilson from the convenience store robbery and said Schafer must have been driving. She identified Wilson as the robbery suspect, court records state.

Detectives confirmed Wilson’s identity using his driver’s license photo and photos from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon.

Investigators noted Wilson has a criminal history in Oregon and Washington, including convictions for assault, theft, burglary, hit-and-run, malicious mischief and a domestic violence order violation.