Fingerprint match leads to arrest in 2-year-old Olympia gas station robbery attempt

Staff writerDecember 12, 2013 

Nicholas Chaffeur, suspect in attempted robbery cold-case.

PHOTO BY JEREMY PAWLOSKI; STAFF WRITER

Latent fingerprints taken from a counter top more than two years ago after an attempted armed robbery at the 76 gas station on Pacific Avenue in Olympia led to Tuesday's arrest of a 22-year-old man in connection with the crime.

In March, forensic scientists working at the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory identified latent fingerprint impressions taken after the August, 2011 gas station robbery as belonging to Nicholas Chaffeur, a 22-year-old from Olympia, court papers state.

Chaffeur had been arrested, booked, and fingerprinted at the King County Jail in October of last year, according to court papers. He was not charged with a crime in connection with that case, however.

But after Chaffeur's arrest in King County, his fingerprints were entered into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, a nationwide database of fingerprints used by the FBI and law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The scientist at the crime lab, Sara Trejo, submitted a report to Olympia police in March that identified Chaffeur's fingerprints as belonging those submitted by Olympia police as a possible suspect's in the 2011 gas station robbery.

In March, Olympia police learned Chaffeur was in California, where he had been arrested on suspicion of theft. He later returned to Olympia and was located Tuesday by Olympia police as he walked to his place of employment at a downtown sandwich shop.

During the Aug. 24, 2011 armed robbery of the 76 gas station on Pacific, a suspect armed with a knife attempted to get money from the store. The store owner said the suspect brandished a knife and went over the counter in an attempt to take money.

Another employee said he heard the suspect yell words to the effect of "I'm going to stab someone," as he went over the counter.

The store owner, who was working behind the counter at the time, said he hit the suspect with a folding chair, and the suspect fled without taking anything.

Olympia Police Officer Jason Watkins reviewed store surveillance, and noticed that the suspect placed his hands on the counter several times, and was not wearing any gloves. Watkins then lifted latent fingerprints from the counter in the location where he saw the suspect place his hands.

Watkins submitted the prints to the crime lab.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon found probable cause to order Chaffeur held on suspicion of a count of attempted first-degree robbery. He set Chaffeur's bail at $25,000.

Chaffeur also faces pending probation violations in California because of his arrest on Tuesday, court papers state.

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