Shoplifting turns into gunplay on South Whidbey

A thief threatened an employee at Goose Community Grocer with a handgun.

During a struggle over purloined bottles of alcohol Saturday, a thief threatened an employee at Goose Community Grocer with a handgun, prompting the employee to pull out his own gun, according to court documents.

The incident ended without gunfire, but deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office tracked down and arrested the suspect, 42-year-old Daniel O. Cacho of Everett, and his alleged accomplice, a 15-year-old girl, on a ferry at the Clinton dock.

A deputy’s report states that Cacho and the girl were also suspects in about half a dozen shoplifting incidents at the three primary grocery stores on South Whidbey.

The incident was the second time in a week that someone pulled a gun to thwart a suspected crime in a grocery store parking lot on South Whidbey. On Feb. 22, the owner of a stolen pickup truck found the vehicle in a Clinton lot, pointed a gun at the man in the driver’s seat and ordered him to give the keys back, according to court documents.

In the incident on Saturday, deputies responded to a theft and weapons complaint in the parking lot of the Goose store in Bayview at 6 p.m. Employees at the store reported seeing a girl loading liquor into a cardboard box in a shopping cart and pushing it out the door without paying, according to a deputy’s report.

One of the employees confronted the girl outside the store entrance, but she ignored him and walked towards a parked car. As the employee grabbed the shopping cart, a man later identified as Cacho jumped out of the car and came towards them. The employee removed liquor bottles from the shopping cart, but Cacho grabbed the employee’s hands and pulled him “in a tug-o-war fashion,” the deputy wrote. The bottles opened during the struggle and spilled on the employee’s hands.

Another employee came outside and tried to wrestle the shopping cart away from the girl. The girl allegedly threatened, “You wanna get shot?”

Cacho went to the car and retrieved an object that the employee described as a gun with a flashlight attached, the report states. The deputy wrote that the employee pulled out his own gun, which “was concealed on his person,” and asked Cacho, “You really want to do this?”

Cacho did not. He told the girl to leave the box and the two of them got into the car, then sped away.

Another deputy saw the suspects’ car heading to the ferry dock; shortly afterward, a worker confirmed a car matching the description was on the ferry. The deputies found Cacho and the girl inside the vehicle and arrested them. The deputy noted seeing a Glock handgun with a mounted flashlight on the back seat, the report states.

Cacho and the girl appeared in separate Island County courtrooms Monday.

Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff found probable cause existed to believe Cacho may have committed the crime of robbery in the first degree.

Deputy Prosecutor David Carman asked that Cacho be held in jail on $50,000 bail given the seriousness of the crime. Carman said it was suspicious and unusual that Cacho was with a 15-year-old girl; neither of them have ties to Whidbey Island, he said.

Defense attorney Matt Montoya suggested that Cacho’s bail should be set at $10,000. He pointed to Cacho’s lack of criminal history. He said assumptions shouldn’t be made about Cacho’s relationship with the girl or the allegations that they shoplifted at other businesses.

Cliff agreed with the $50,000 bail recommendation, saying that Cacho created a dangerous situation that nearly ended with shots being fired. She also said it was indeed troubling that Cacho was with a minor who he was not related to.

The teenage girl appeared before Judge Christon Skinner. He found probable cause existed to believe she committed the crime of robbery in the second degree and theft in the third degree. She was released to a guardian and ordered to stay away from Cacho.