Salem teen charged in two June robberies

A Salem teen faces charges alleging he robbed two people in June. His arrest is the second police have made in a pair of robberies that day.

Giovany A. Cruz, 18, was charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree robbery in Marion County Circuit Court, according to court records.

Cruz had been a suspect in the robberies for months and was detained police the day they occurred, but it wasn’t until this week he was arrested and charged.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on June 17, Salem police responded to a report of an armed robbery on Northeast Market Street. 

A woman told police she had been walking near Northeast 45th Avenue when a dark sedan pulled over to the opposite side of the road. The driver and driver-side back passenger got out, according to a Salem Police Department affidavit.

She reported one of the two had a gun and someone demanded she give them all of her property, so she gave them her fanny pack, AirPod case and black LG cell phone.

Later that morning — after a string of robberies, a shooting and a car theft “all involving similar details” — Salem officers found a Ford Focus matching the car involved in most of the  incidents in the area of Northeast Hawthorne Avenue and Northeast Wayside Terrace, the affidavit said. 

When a Salem officer pulled up to several suspects standing around the car and turned on his lights, they all fled on foot. 

Two officers reported they chased several suspects on foot, detaining Cruz, 18-year-old Matthew Gauntt and three others who were hiding in blackberry bushes. They used a police dog to find keys for the stolen vehicle, a stolen handgun and other items, “all recovered in the path of travel where the suspects had to run,” according to the affidavit.

The victim told police she saw five people in the car.

One of those detained told police it had been Gauntt and Cruz who were involved in robbing the woman, saying Gauntt was the driver and pointed the gun at the woman while Cruz sat on the driver side directly behind him.

Police also learned there had been another robbery minutes before with similar suspect descriptions. 

The victim of the first robbery told police all the men in the car had been yelling at him, giving him orders and “participating in the robbery to various degrees,” the report said.

Serving a warrant, police searched the Ford Focus the next day and found a replica Glock pistol with an extended magazine.

In the months that followed, police also reviewed files from cell phones belonging to people involved in the incidents.

Cruz was arrested Tuesday and booked into Marion County Jail, where he and Gauntt were each being held on a $50,000 bail as of Friday.

His arrest Tuesday comes nearly three months after Gauntt was arrested for shooting at a Salem home.

Gauntt was initially charged June 21 with attempted second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of recklessly endangering another person in Marion County Circuit Court, court records showed.

A Marion County grand jury on July 18 indicted him on additional charges of first-degree robbery, two counts of second-degree robbery and unlawful use of a weapon. He was also indicted on two additional counts of unlawful use of a weapon and three more counts of recklessly endangering another person.

The robbery charges stem from the second incident in which Cruz is charged.

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

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.