Man robbing pizzeria has second thoughts, asks for job application instead, police say

Papa Murphy’s is a nationally-known pizza franchise.
Papa Murphy’s is a nationally-known pizza franchise. McClatchy

A man waving what eventually proved to be a fake handgun was arrested Wednesday evening, Oct. 12, in connection with an attempted robbery of a Sunnyland pizzeria.

Matthew Aaron Etchieson, 26, of Bellingham, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on a first-degree robbery charge following a bizarre incident about 7 p.m. at Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza, 2400 James St.

Police said Etchieson entered the store carrying what appeared to the two employees to be a semiautomatic pistol, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon.

He pointed the gun at these folks and they were very afraid.

Bellingham Police detective Mike Scanlon

“He brandished (the pistol), waved it in the air, and asked something to the effect of ‘Have you guys ever been robbed? Well, you are now!’ ” Scanlon said. He said the employees were cooperating when the heist took a weird turn.

“All of a sudden, he puts the gun away and says: ‘Hey you guys, just kidding, you got a job application?’ ” Scanlon said. “They said they weren’t hiring.”

Etchieson fled on foot without any money and was detained by officers a few blocks away, Scanlon said. One of the employees identified Etchieson as the man who entered the store, Scanlon said.

Scanlon said the robbery charge reflects state law that criminalizes such a ruse.

“You just never know. You’ve got to assume you see what you’re seeing. He pointed the gun at these folks and they were very afraid,” Scanlon said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty