A 19-year-old man is locked up on $150,000 bail for allegedly taking the wallets of two men at gunpoint after approaching them in the Columbia Center mall parking lot.
When Travis Dean Lemaster demanded the wallet of a third man in the group, the victim grabbed the gun and it fired, injuring his hand, police said.
Lemaster pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to two counts of first-degree robbery and one count of attempted first-degree robbery, all while armed with a deadly weapon.
Lemaster, a convicted felon, is not allowed to own a gun. His trial is Aug. 3.
Meanwhile, the alleged getaway driver, Jered A. Webber Krom, is set for trial Aug. 10 on one count of first-degree robbery. The 22-year-old man’s bail is set at $50,000.
Webber Krom allegedly told Kennewick police he did not know Lemaster was planning a “stickup” when they drove into the parking lot June 6.
However, officers recovered surveillance video from a Kennewick store showing the suspects looking at .380-caliber ammunition two days before the robbery, and later found a similar bullet on the front passenger floorboard of Webber Krom’s Buick, court documents show.
Lemaster can be seen on the Sportsman’s Warehouse video removing a tray of the ammunition and leaving the store without paying for it, documents said. Lemaster reportedly was sitting in the front passenger seat of the Buick.
According to police and court documents, the three victims drove to the mall in two cars from Pasco. They parked and were starting to walk toward the mall when a Buick with three men stopped next to them.
The victims said they didn’t know the men, but recalled passing a slow-driving Buick on Highway 240.
Lemaster got out of the passenger seat, approached the victims and, one by one, pointed the gun directly at their abdomens, demanding their wallets, court documents said. The first two complied, but the third grabbed Lemaster’s hand with the gun and tried to pull it down, causing it to fire, documents said.
Lemaster then hopped back in the Buick, and Webber Krom drove off, documents said.
The victims gave a partial license plate to police. Several witnesses, including an off-duty corrections officer, reported seeing what happened.
The Buick was found the next day outside a house in the 900 block of Canal Drive in Kennewick, and the Tri-Cities Regional SWAT team searched a nearby home and didn’t find the suspects.
Webber Krom came to the Kennewick Police Department the next day, knowing that his Buick had been impounded. He told investigators he was driving slow on Highway 240 on June 6 because the speedometer was broken.
He denied following the victims to the mall, but claimed Lemaster told him to stop next to the victims’ cars at the mall. He said he didn’t know Lemaster had a gun and planned to rob the men.
Later, he saw Lemaster go through the stolen wallets and estimated there was $150 in cash, court documents said. Webber Krom said he asked for gas money, but Lemaster “told him he would hook him up later,” documents said.
An anonymous tip led to Lemaster’s arrest June 9 at a Pasco fast-food restaurant.
Documents claim he initially denied any knowledge of the robbery in a recorded interview with police, but then said he did it and that one of the men tried to grab the gun.
He reportedly expressed little remorse for his actions, and said “he would be out of prison by the time he is 40 and that was ‘cool,’ ” documents show.