Two arrested in Gateway armed robbery

What started out as a ‘gift card for sale’ scam ended up being a holdup near Mall 205 …

Police investigate an armed robbery in the parking lot of the Gateway area’s Mall 205.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Instead of purchasing “gift cards” at a discount, as had been advertised, the buyer was robbed at gunpoint during a transaction that went awry on the evening of April 17 about 10:30 p.m.

The scam victim was to meet the seller in the parking lot of Mall 205. But, the seller came with a buddy who also jumped into buyer’s car – and robbed the victim at gunpoint.

“Both suspects ran towards Home Depot; the victim provided descriptions of the men to the officers who arrived shortly after the robbery,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Soon an officer spotted a car in which the driver matching the suspect descriptions from the Mall 205 parking lot, and tried to stop the vehicle at SE Washington Street near 103rd Avenue. “The driver stopped briefly but then sped away from police, eastbound on Stark Street,” Simpson said.

Because of the driver’s reckless actions while making a getaway, officers stopped the pursuit, but continued to observe the vehicle. At SE Stark Street and 148th Avenue, officers put out spike strips and flattened both driver’s side tires.

Police start closing in on suspected armed robbers in the Centennial neighborhood.

“Officers canvassing the area located the abandoned vehicle parked on Southeast 157th Avenue, north of Stark Street; a witness told police that the suspects ran, eastbound, away from the car,” Simpson said.

With a dragnet set by East Precinct and the Gresham Police Department officers – and thanks to the tracking ability of PPB Canine “Billy”, and his officer – the suspects were quickly located and taken into custody.

“Officers checking the area for evidence did not initially find a gun, but later found one in a secondary search,” Simpson revealed.

Charged with two felonies is 20-year-old Alex M. Ngatia. MCDC booking photo

20-year-old Alex M. Ngatia – the first person to meet the victim – was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center MCDC at 6:43 a.m. the following morning on charges of Robbery in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree, and Possession of Cocaine. Ngatia remains in custody at Multnomah County Inverness Jail in lieu of $505,000 bail.

Accused of being the gunman is 21-year-old Nash G. Muraya, who also faces two felony charges. MCDC booking photo

21-year-old Nash G. Muraya – believed to have been the gunman – was booked into MCDC 6:28 a.m. that morning on charges of Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, and Attempt to Elude on Foot. Muraya remains in custody at Multnomah County Inverness Jail in lieu of $507,500 bail.

If you’re considering buying “bargain gift cards” in a late-night parking-lot meeting, keep this story in mind.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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