Gunman helps Puyallup theft suspect escape

A woman tried to steal more than $1,000 worth of Kmart merchandise by sneaking through an emergency exit, then escaped with a male accomplice who threatened to shoot a loss-prevention officer, police say.

Also according to police:

The woman entered the store, on River Road in Puyallup, about 7 p.m. Friday.

After she left the store, a loss-prevention officer apprehended her near the store exit, where a stolen 1988 Honda Civic was waiting in the parking lot.

A man in the Honda drew a gun from his waistband and threatened the loss-prevention officer. The man and woman then fled in the stolen car, heading west toward Tacoma. They left the cart of merchandise behind, said Lt. Scott Engle, a Puyallup police spokesman.

He said the getaway car was stolen from the parking lot at the Walmart on South Hill shortly before the robbery. Police are trying retrieve surveillance video from the Walmart to help identify the woman.

The gun used in the attempted robbery also appears to have been stolen, matching the description of a gun stolen during a car prowl at the South Hill Park and Ride at 31st Avenue Southwest and Ninth Street Southwest.

The man and woman could face a robbery charge because a firearm was involved, Engle said. A prosecutor also could choose to charge the gunman with assault, he said.

“It’s kind of a gray area there,” Engle said. “The prosecutor will have to sort that out.”

Puyallup police are working to identify the woman. Anyone with information is asked to call the Puyallup Police Department Tip Line at 253-770-3343.