Bail was set at $1 million for a 23-year-old Seattle man suspected of robbing a string of gas stations along the Interstate 5 corridor, then fleeing to Utah.
Siosaia L. V. Fifita pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree robbery while armed with a firearm on Wednesday, before Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon. He was booked into the Thurston County Jail on Feb. 12 after U.S. marshals arrested him in Utah.
An arrest warrant for Fifita was issued Dec. 21, three days after he allegedly robbed several gas stations at gunpoint. Deputy Prosecutor Craig Juris said the robbery charges are only for the crimes committed in Thurston County — and that other charges will likely be filed in Pierce and King counties.
Fifita’s criminal history dates to 2008, when he was convicted of residential burglary in King County. In 2009, he was convicted of second-degree burglary in King County.
According to the Lacey Police Department, the string of crimes began at the Lacey Target about 10 p.m. Dec. 17. Two suspects were believed to have shoplifted liquor from the store and fled the scene.
They struck again at a Chevron gasoline station at 1601 Marvin Road NE in Lacey.
One suspect, later identified as Fifita, entered the Chevron store with the shotgun and demanded money. The clerk had a hard time opening the register and Fifita is shown banging the barrel of the gun on the glass counter until it shattered, said police.
The suspects left with an undisclosed amount of money.
The next target was a Mobile station at 9410 Martin Way E. in Thurston County, according to police. Both suspects entered the store about 15 minutes after the Chevron was robbed, and the clerk asked a white male suspect to take off his mask. A suspect who appears to be Fifita is seen taking out the shotgun and asking the clerk to hand over money from the store’s safe.
As the clerk walked to the safe, the suspect hit him on the back of the head with the gun. The suspect then went behind the counter and took money from the cash register. The white male suspect climbed over the counter and took cigars, according to police.
From there, the suspects headed up I-5 to DuPont and robbed a gasoline station just before 1 a.m. They then robbed gas stations in Fife, Kent and Tukwila, police reported.
According to court documents, several people identified Fifita as the armed suspect after media outlets released security camera footage and a description of the suspect.
So far, Fifita is the only suspect charged in Thurston County in connection to the December robberies.