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News / Northwest

Wapato man charged with robbery in connection with Pop-Tarts theft

By Donald W. Meyers, Yakima Herald-Republic
Published: June 5, 2024, 7:45am

YAKIMA — A Wapato gang member is charged with first-degree robbery after prosecutors alleged he pointed a pistol at a Walmart employee while shoplifting Pop-Tarts and other items.

Deon Xavier Smartlowit-Billy, 24, was also charged with second-degree assault and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the May 28 incident at the 1600 E. Chestnut Ave. retailer.

He is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree burglary in connection with an unrelated incident at Kohl’s in Union Gap in March.

A Yakima police officer was patrolling the Walmart parking lot around 11:15 p.m. when he was told that a theft had just occurred in the store, and that the suspect, who had flashed a gun as he was running out, was running south on Chalmers Street, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The officer was unable to find the suspect, but officers found Smartlowit-Billy a half-hour later after he tried to stop a man on a bicycle, the affidavit said.

At the store, an employee said he saw Smartlowit-Billy and a woman come in the store around 10:55 p.m., and the suspect was carrying a backpack and a fanny pack, while the woman had what appeared to be an empty purse, the affidavit said. The employee said the woman was leaving the store by herself 10 minutes later and her purse appeared fuller.

The employee asked her to return the stolen items and leave, which she did, the affidavit said.

The employee located Smartlowit-Billy at a cash register where he had some items he was paying for and noticed that the suspect had a second backpack that had a security tag on it. He became confrontational with the employee as he went to the doors, the affidavit said, and pointed a gun at the employee while demanding the doors be opened.

When Smartlowit-Billy was arrested, he had several items believed to have been stolen from the store, including a backpack from the store, a bag of cereal, a box of doughnuts, a padlock and multiple Pop-Tarts toaster pastry snacks. Police also found a Hi-Point .380-caliber pistol on him with a bullet chambered and five rounds in the magazine, the affidavit said.

Court records show Smartlowit-Billy has a prior conviction for second-degree escape and is the subject of a no-contact order. The records also show he is a documented Norteño gang member.

He was booked into the Yakima County jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, third-degree theft, obstructing police and failing to obey a police officer.

He was also accused of second-degree burglary and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with a March shoplifting incident at Kohl’s in Union Gap.

During a preliminary appearance hearing in Yakima County Superior Court May 29, Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Barrett asked for $50,000 bail, noting that a pretrial assessment showed Smartlowit-Billy had an extremely high likelihood of committing new crimes and not showing up for future court dates. Barrett said that a gun was involved was a concerning factor.

Defense attorney Aaron Case argued for releasing him on court supervision or setting bail at the $10,000 to $15,000 range. The suspect, Case said, lives in Yakama Nation public housing, supports two children and participates in tribal ceremonies and fishing activities.

Judge Sonia Rodriguez True set bail at $30,000 for the robbery case and $5,000 for the Kohl’s incident.

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