Less than a day after an armed man wearing a hoody and sunglasses held up the Grog Shop liquor store, police arrested two suspects in the robbery.
Police arrested John Mumey, 50, and Terry Jean Lashley-Elliot, 32, without incident at their Hillside Place home near West Hill Road about 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. Neither were armed at the time of their arrests.
Police allege Mumey robbed the Grog Shop at gunpoint and that Lashley-Elliot knew about the planned robbery and drove him to Pioneer Avenue and picked him up. Police also said Mumey had an improvised explosive device during the robbery, but did not brandish it. Police recovered what they believe is a working IED near the Grog Shop on Monday night.
The two were arraigned separately at the Homer Courthouse on Wednesday on one charge each of first-degree robbery, a class A felony. Because under Alaska law the presumption is that a suspect charged with a class A felony could be a threat to the community, no bail was set and Mumey and Lashley-Elliot remain in jail. Neither entered a plea.
According to an affidavit filed by Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns, about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 17, a clerk at the Grog Shop, a longtime liquor store on Pioneer Avenue, made a 911 call that he had been robbed. The male clerk said a man more than 6 feet tall wearing a hooded sweatshirt and dark sunglasses pointed a silver semi-automatic handgun at the clerk and demanded money. The clerk gave him the register cash drawer. The robber also grabbed a 12-pack of Alaska White beer. He fled out the front door and back around the south side of the building.
However, a steep hill out back was icy, and the robber apparently slipped. Police searching the area found the cash drawer, a bottle of beer, a blue bag, a belt and what Kuhns described as an improvised explosive device. The IED, a clear plastic bottle, had screws, shotgun pellets and a fuse from the top wrapped in blue painter’s masking tape. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said there appears to be an explosive charge in the IED.
“It looks to us like a viable device,” he said. “It looks to us like it would have gone off … and possibly do serious injury to a person in near proximity of it.”
Police will send the IED to the Anchorage Crime Lab for analysis. Robl said he didn’t know what Mumey intended with the IED.
“He made this device and carried it with him during a felony,” Robl said. “He’s carrying the device for some reason. At this time we can only surmise the reasons why he carried.”
The cash drawer still had large-denomination bills, and a Grog Shop employee said mostly small denomination bills appeared to have been taken.
On Tuesday, a person who wished to remain anonymous called police with information about the case. The informant had details that had not been publicly released. The informant said Mumey planned “something bad” and had “robbed the Grog,” Kuhns wrote. The informant told police Mumey did the robbery and Lashley-Elliot had prior knowledge of it. The informant said he or she had seen Mumey behind the Heritage Hotel, a historic hotel several blocks west of the Grog Shop, after the robbery and saw Mumey changing clothes. Mumey took a box of Alaska White beer to the hotel, the informant said, and tossed gloves into a Dumpster behind the Heritage Hotel. Police found an empty Alaska White box, empty bottles and gloves in the Dumpster.
Police looked at video footage from cameras at the Grog Shop and saw a man wearing a teal colored jacked with a logo on the back and carrying a blue bag, a belt and a silver handgun.
On Tuesday, police served a search warrant on the Hillside Place home and arrested the suspects. During questioning, Lashley-Elliot said she saw Mumey dress for the robbery at their home, Kuhns wrote. She said she knew of the robbery and drove him about 11 p.m. to the Heritage Hotel, where Mumey’s brother, James A. Mumey, 49, was staying.
The younger Mumey was arrested earlier Tuesday on a charge of fourth-degree assault, domestic violence. Robl said police do not believe James Mumey was involved in the robbery.
Lashley-Elliot said John Mumey later called her to come pick him up at the Heritage Hotel, where he changed clothes. Mumey gave her $293 in cash, allegedly from the Grog Shop robbery. She said they used the money to buy heroin, methamphetamine and alcohol. Lashley-Elliot told police Mumey asked her to get rid of the clothing and the handgun. She said she got rid of it near a friend’s home in Homer.
At his arraignment, John Mumey told Judge Margaret Murphy he had no income and she appointed him a public defender. Mumey appeared in court wearing orange prison clothing. Mumey has a shaved head, a soul patch style goatee and tattoos on his left arm and on the side of his neck.
Robl said the robber in the videos had most of his face and the rest of his body covered.
At the hearing, Mumey tried to make a statement about the case.
“If in fact these charges are true, I am very remorseful,” Mumey said.
Murphy cut him off, saying he shouldn’t say anything until he talked to a lawyer.
Lashley-Elliot seemed stunned that she had been arrested, and asked to be released on her own recognizance. She also tried to make a statement at her hearing..
“Can I say something?” Lashley-Elliot asked. “I tried to get help. I told somebody about it.”
As with Mumey, Murphy told her to keep quiet until she got a lawyer. Lashley-Elliot said she would hire a lawyer on her own.
Murphy told Mumey he was not to have contact with Lashley-Elliot.
“Until I make her my wife, right?” Mumey said.
Mumey also had a court hearing Wednesday on a September charge of second-degree terroristic threatening. On Sept. 6, Alaska State Trooper John Probst said James Mumey called Homer Police asking them to check on his brother, John Mumey. James Mumey said John had texted and called his mother, saying he was “going to check out.” Probst called John Mumey, and Mumey said he had been drinking and wanted the cops to kill him. “OK, do I need to come by the police station and open fire?” Probst said Mumey told him. “I’m on a mission. I just want to f---ing die.”
If convicted on the robbery charges, Mumey and Lashley-Elliot each face up to 20 years in jail with a maximum fine of $250,000. At a minimum, because Mumey allegedly carried a handgun, he could face 7 to 11 years if convicted.
Robl said the case remains under investigation and further charges could be forthcoming.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.