Two men charged with armed robbery of west Salem Plaid Pantry

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem police on Wednesday arrested two Dallas residents in connection with the armed robbery of a Plaid Pantry more than a week prior.

Aspen Hale and Dominick Howland, both 21, were charged Thursday with first-degree robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree theft in Polk County Circuit Court.

Around 4:20 a.m. Dec. 21, the Salem Police Department received a report from an employee at the Plaid Pantry at 2591 Wallace Road N.W. that two people had robbed the store, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Two employees told police that two unknown men pointed a gun at one of them and stole money and lottery tickets.

According to one employee, she was outside on a crate smoking a cigarette when the men ran up to her. One grabbed her by her wrist and pulled her to a standing position, pointed a gun into her back and said he would shoot her if she didn’t cooperate, the affidavit said.

She said the man escorted her into the cooler where the other employee was stocking items and told them both to get on the ground. A few seconds later, she said she heard the man yell something similar to, “Are we good?,” before both men ran out of the store.

An inventory check by an employee found they had stolen $85 in cash and $800 in lottery tickets, according to the affidavit. They also took an employee’s backpack containing their identification, credit and debit cards and $11 in cash.

Police reviewed surveillance video and saw the men running to the back of the store out of view before a small hatchback car left the area seconds later.

On Tuesday, a relative of Howland’s called police and said two men had committed the robbery, court documents said. They named Hale and Howland as suspects.

Hale was also charged driving under the influence after a crash on Dec. 26. Police on Wednesday searched the car Hale was driving when he was arrested for DUI and found several clothes, including a ski mask, that matched those worn during the robbery, the affidavit said.

Police arrested the men around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Hale initially denied being involved in the robbery before later admitting to it. “Hale would not go into detail, just that he was the person who did not have the gun,” the affidavit said. Howland denied knowing anything about the robbery.

Both men were charged Thursday with first-degree robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree theft in Polk County Circuit Court.

The Polk County District Attorney’s Office is now handling the case, according to a Thursday news release.

In a separate case, Howland was charged Thursday with driving under the influence of intoxicants on Dec. 6 in Polk County.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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