Strip club owner shot, after giving gunman cash

Take a look, and see why some elements of a violent crime that occurred in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood are so puzzling …

After a report of an armed robbery and shooting, police rush to the Tommy’s Too night club.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Since it was the week of Christmas, business was slow at Tommy’s Too night club on December 22. In fact, by 10:00 p.m., employees said almost all of the customers had left for the evening.

But, at 10:07 p.m., Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers responded strip club at 10335 SE Foster Road, on the report of a shooting.

Officers investigate the crime scene at Tommy’s Too night club, following an armed robbery.

“Detectives learned that the victim, 54-year-old Craig Matthew Desmarais, was shot during an apparent robbery of the business,” PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

According a club employee who wished not to be identified, a dancer did her best to slow the bleeding from the right side of the neck of Desmarais, the club’s owner.

A sergeant and officers look at a roll of cash, apparently dropped or discarded after the armed robbery, as the gunman made his escape.

Curiously, officers discovered a wad of cash in the parking lot, just west of the establishment, in the Foster Feed parking lot.

It appeared as if officers also located more evidence in the Foster Auto Parts lot.

A PPB K9 team talks with officers after searching the area.

Within minutes, PPB K9 teams came to the area, and began a track which evidently led just a short distance from the club before it went cold.

The PPB Mobile Precinct rolled up to the scene, as Detectives and Criminalists began their investigation.

“Homicide detectives and forensic investigators were called to the scene because of the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, which were immediately described as life-threatening,” later said Simpson.

The PPB Mobile Precinct pulls in, serving as a temporary office for Homicide detectives and Criminalists from the Forensic Evidence Division who work at the scene.

Speaking with reporters, a woman, who identified herself as the club’s manager, said she witnessed the robbery. A man, wearing dark clothing, with a hood up covering most of his face, walked in and demanded money.

Even though Desmarais gave the gunman money from the safe, the armed robber then shot him in the neck, then fled the scene. “There was no reason to shoot him,” the manager said. “I just don’t understand why he shot him.”

Desmarais remains in critical condition at a Portland hospital.

The investigation of this crime continues, late into the evening.

Anyone with information about this robbery and shooting should contact Detective Kristina Coffey at (503) 823-0696, kristina.coffey@portlandoregon.gov; or, Detective Mark Sponhauer at (503) 823-0416, mark.sponhauer@portlandoregon.gov.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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