Assault charges stem from alleged robbery

"Two suspects in a strong-arm robbery in Oak Harbor July 31 have been charged with assault and theft after one of the men allegedly confessed to stealing drugs from a friend. Matthew T. Gardiner, 18, of Oak Harbor is being held on $5,000 bail after being charged with second-degree assault and second-degree theft in Island County Superior Court Aug. 17.Colin Berner, 19, of Oak Harbor was charged with the same counts Aug. 21.According to a police report written by Oak Harbor Police Officer Robert Dickinson, he responded to the report of a robbery at a field next to West Whidbey Avenue that afternoon. The 18-year-old victim, who had a swollen nose and a cut above his eye, said that he was walking through the field when he met up with four men his age. After he told them he had just sold his car, he said Gardiner and Berner hit him numerous times in the face and stomach, then took his wallet containing $780.On Aug. 14, Dickinson stopped Gardiner for a traffic violation and arrested him on suspicion of assault and robbery.According to the report, Gardiner said that he, the alleged victim and two other men had gone into the woods next to the high school for a drug transaction. He said Berner started choking the victim, so he grabbed the drugs that the victim was holding. While Berner held the victim, Gardiner hit him and then ran off with the drugs. Gardiner said he didn't see any money stolen.The offense report states that Gardiner has a criminal history that includes assault, a drug offense, theft and forgery. "

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