Olympia police have arrested a 34-year-old suspect in connection with the early Monday morning robbery at knifepoint of the Day and Night Grocery in the 2000 block of Harrison Avenue.
The suspect also is a "person of interest" in two recent arsons at the Olympia Food Cooperative's west side store in the 900 block of Rogers Street. One of the arsons at the food coop occurred on Sunday night, the other on Monday night.
The Monday night arson at the food coop was a fully-engulfed dumpster fire. The dumpster that was set afire is located behind and up against the rear of the store, Olympia police spokeswoman Laura Wohl said.
Olympia Food Coop bookkeeper Corey Mayer said employees were still inside the coop during Monday night's arson. He said that if the fire hadn't been caught in time, "it could have ignited the structure of the roof."
Matthew McDonald, the suspect in the Day and Night Grocery Robbery, was arrested at his home in the 1700 block of Brawne Avenue Tuesday, Olympia police spokeswoman Laura Wohl said. Wohl confirmed Wednesday that McDonald is a person of interest in the food coop arsons.
McDonald was being held at the Thurston County Jail Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree robbery with bail set at $75,000. McDonald also is being held on two warrants for arson in cases that occurred outside of OPD's jurisdiction, Wohl said.
The first arson at the food coop's west side location occurred on Sunday night, when firefighters responded to a small fire outside the coop in a wooden storage shelf near the dumpster. Mayer said that it was fortuitous that the fire department happened to be in the area during the time of the first arson.
Wohl said the fire department was in the area of the food coop during Sunday night's arson because they were responding to other small brush fires believed to be arsons at the time of the Sunday night coop fire.
Wohl did not have any details about how police identified McDonald as a suspect in Sunday night's robbery of the Day and Night Grocery. But she said police developed probable cause to arrest McDonald as they were investigating him in connection with the food coop arsons.
Wohl said McDonald is a match with the person captured on surveillance footage robbing the Day and Night Grocery early Monday morning. According to court papers, McDonald's ex-wife's mother said the is "100 percent positive" the person seen on surveillance footage robbing the Day and Night Grocery is McDonald.
During the robbery, the suspect pulled a bandana over his face after entering the store, and took several packs of cigarettes from behind the counter. When the clerk confronted the suspect, the suspect produced a knife and threatened him with it.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 firstname.lastname@example.org