Theft of a hat leads law enforcement to robbery with possible gang ties

The report of the theft of a hat from a convenience store quickly led to the arrest of three Hoquiam men who allegedly put a knife to a man’s throat and threatened to kill him as part of a gang initiation.

Ocean Shores Police responded to a call from the Ocean Market, known as the Rhino, in the 700 block of Point Brown Avenue Northeast just before midnight Sunday, according to a statement released by Ocean Shores Police Sergeant David McManus. A clerk at the market told officers a group of men had stolen a hat and left in a small black car. While a statement was being taken from the store clerk, a 25-year old Ocean Shores man approached and said he had been robbed at knifepoint by three men who had left in a black car. Officers determined both incidents were related, and the victim of the robbery had been with the group of men when the hat was stolen.

The victim told officers one of the men put a knife to his throat and all three ordered him to the ground. He said the men threatened to kill him as an initiation into the Bloods street gang. After taking all his belongings, they forced him out of the car. State Troopers found the suspect vehicle on State Route 109 heading for Hoquiam. Evidence of both the theft and the robbery were located, and all three men — age 46, 21 and 34 — were arrested for investigation of robbery and felony harassment. Drugs were also found one of the suspects.