BEND, Ore. - Last summer, when a gunman held up the Arco gas station near NE 27th Street and Highway 20, it took six months to make an arrest in the case. After a masked man's holdup Wednesday night, it took only about three hours, thanks to an observant officer on the other side of town, police said.
Officers responded at 8: 56 p.m. to the reported robbery of the gas station at 575 NE Bellevue Drive, said Cpl. John Lawrence.
The female employee said a white male entered the store with a red bandana covering his face, demanded money and fled the scene, Lawrence said, adding that no weapon was reported.
Officers arrived on scene within two minutes and began a major hunt for the suspect, assisted by Deschutes County sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police troopers, but were unable to find him, the corporal said.
About five minutes to midnight, a Bend officer responded to an unrelated report of someone trying to break into a car at the Shari's Restaurant on Bend's south side, Lawrence said.
The officer contacted a suspect as he was leaving the area in the car. "The observant officer noticed the suspect and items inside his vehicle matched the description of the suspect from the Arco robbery," Lawrence wrote in a news release.
Evidence of both crimes was recovered, Lawrence said, and Philip John Leithauser, 26, was arrested and lodged at the county jail.
Leithauser was held on nearly $60,000 bail, facing initial charges of second-degree robbery, second-degree theft, attempted unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, criminal mischief and felon in possession of a weapon, according to jail records.
Leithauser has a criminal record dating back eight years, according to online records, including arrests on charges of DUII, fourth-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, burglary, criminal mischief and theft.
Police had contacted a major search of stores and restaurants in the busy commercial area.
The employee had told officers the white male about 6 feet tall, with a red bandana over his face, walked in, demanded the money, then ran.
She said he had very short hair and was wearing a gray and black hooded sweatshirt with a white long-sleeved shirt underneath and blue jeans.
It was the second robbery of the gas station in less than eight months. Late last August, a gun was used in an early-morning holdup at the Arco station, and in that case there was a struggle for the gun and a shot was fired that didn't hit anyone.
A boyfriend-girlfriend duo, Anthony Pastran, 44, and Lisa Schnittke, 39, were arrested in January in connection that holdup and a later one, in late November at a northeast Bend Shari's Restaurant.
The arrest came after police say Pastran called dispatchers to say his girlfriend found a gun outside their door after a knock on the door, and that she was wounded when it went off. But police later determined the shot was fired when they struggled for the gun. Schnittke was accused of being his getaway driver. Both remain at the Deschutes County Jail.