The accused did NOT snatch a uniform and steal an installation van. Find out more about this heinous, and extremely odd, crime – which put East Portlanders on edge …
While some police officers were tracking down the getaway vehicle – a regulation Comcast Cable van, from the company’s fleet – a Portland Police Bureau criminalist gathers evidence at the America’s Cash Express Check Cashing store on SE Powell Boulevard.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After hearing a commotion next door, in the building they share at 7332 SE Powell Boulevard, employee at the Chair Outlet grabbed a cell phone and called 9-1-1 about 10:45 a.m. on July 8. The landline telephone lines to the business had been cut.
As Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers rushed to that neighboring business, America’s Cash Express (ACE) Check Cashing, witnesses noticed something odd.
It wasn’t just a robbery; officials say – and witnesses police debriefed agreed – the incident at the check-cashing store turned into a brutal assault, for reasons that are not yet clear.
“They saw a Comcast Cable [instillation] van leave the area at a high rate of speed,” said PPB spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat. “And, they reported seeing a bloody victim of the alleged robbery stumbling out of the business.”
Witnesses further helped the officers by describing the suspect – the man was wearing an official-looking Comcast uniform – and provided information about the vehicle he was driving, which was a Comcast van, Wheat continued.
To preserve evidence, police cordoned off the area with crime scene tape.
Described as violent assault
What started out as just another day at the office at ACE Check Cashing for employee Nicole Loundree ended for her at OHSU. “This employee had been violently assaulted,” Wheat confirmed.
Witnesses reported that the suspect took off, heading south through the neighborhood. Officers fanned out, and located not one, but two, Comcast trucks, and two Comcast-uniformed employees – about a block apart from one another, near SE 67th Avenue and SE Holgate Boulevard.
“One of these suspects was taken into custody – the one in the 6700 block of SE Mall Street (a block north of SE Holgate Boulevard).” said Wheat. “Detectives determined that the other subject had nothing to do with the robbery.”
This van, said to have been used as the getaway vehicle in the alleged robbery, is indeed a genuine Comcast installation truck, the company confirms. Photo courtesy of FOX 12 News
Phone lines cut to gain entry
While the details of this story are still unfolding, Wheat did confirm the business’s telephone lines had been cut. It is speculated the suspect cut the lines as an excuse to gain entry to the secured area of the check-cashing business to “fix the phone”.
Police impounded the cable-TV installation van, and searched it for evidence.
“Detectives recovered a metal object that was possibly used as a weapon in this incident, and a plastic replica handgun that was altered to resemble a real handgun,” Wheat told us. The metal object was definitely not a crowbar, as was reported by other news media, she added.
Officials say this man, Michael Clarence Hagen, is suspected in the robbery and assault – but haven’t indicated any reason why his theft attempt turned violent.
Comcast confirms employee status
The suspect taken in custody by detectives has been identified as 25-year-old Michael Clarence Hagen, reported Wheat. “Comcast Cable has confirmed that Hagen is an employee of their company.”
Hagen has been charged with one count of Attempt Aggravated Murder, one count of Robbery in the First Degree, and one count of Assault in the First Degree.
The day of the incident, Comcast released the following statement:
“We were appalled to learn of this situation and our thoughts remain with the store employee and her family. We continue to work closely and cooperate with local authorities and have put the individual on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The safety of the members of the Portland community is our top priority.”
Wheat noted, “Detectives extend their appreciation to Comcast Cable for their support and complete cooperation in this incident. They’ve asked that any commercial businesses that have had any suspicious activity involving a male Comcast employee in the last several weeks to please call Detective Chris Traynor at (503) 823-0464.
© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News