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3 charged in armed robbery of medical pot store


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SEATTLE - A man and two teenagers have been charged in connection with the armed robbery of a medical marijuana dispensary in West Seattle last weekend.

All three have been charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Donshae D. Sims, 24, faces a sentence range of 15 to 17 years in prison, and Malik D. Heckard, 16, who is charged as an adult, faces a range of 14 to 16 years.

The third defendant, who is 15, is charged in Juvenile Court. He could be incarcerated for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years at a juvenile facility.

Seattle police say that the incident began just after 6 p.m. Saturday at a medical marijuana shop on the 5400 block of California Avenue SW.

The three suspects walked into the shop, but were asked to leave by the shop's employees when they determined that the three weren't there to buy anything.

In response, police say, the suspects all pulled out handguns, and then tied up the three employees and two customers in the store. They robbed the five victims of their wallets, stole some marijuana and fled the store on foot, according to police.

But as the suspects fled, one of the suspects dropped his gun and some of the stolen items in a nearby alley. At the same time, store employees, who had been able to free themselves, started chasing the suspects and caught two of them a few blocks from the store.

Officers who arrived at the scene arrested the two suspects that had been caught by the store employees. The third suspect was caught soon after and was arrested.

Seattle police say they were able to recover all of the stolen wallets and all of the stolen marijuana, along with two handguns.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that the rise in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in our county and state make them potential targets for violence.

"Medical cannabis dispensaries have evolved to fill a gap in the law that does not provide a method for legitimate patients to obtain their medicine. They operate in a legal grey area and are largely unregulated as to time, place and manner of operation. They are also an obvious target for robbery because of the presence of cash and drugs," Satterberg said.

"We are very lucky that this armed takeover robbery did not result in death or injury, but it highlights the urgent need for legislative policy makers to establish clear guidelines for the medical use of cannabis," Satterberg said.

"In my view, if cannabis dispensaries are to be permitted, they should operate with strict requirements of security to protect their customers, and outside of residential areas to protect our neighborhoods. The present proliferation of dispensaries throughout the community will continue to invite criminal violence," he said.
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