Police: Man pulls knife on Bellingham barista, gets no coffee

A man who pulled a pocket knife on a Starbucks barista when he did not have the money to pay for his coffee was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery Wednesday, Dec. 3, police said.

Theodore Aaron Keyes left the Starbucks on West Bakerview Road without coffee when the barista refused to give in to the perceived threat, police spokesman Bob Vander Yacht said. Keyes was arrested in the nearby Fred Meyer parking lot shortly after the incident around 9 p.m.

The barista recognized Keyes from previous visits when he ordered coffee and did not have the money to pay. On Wednesday night, the barista asked him to pay in advance, and Keyes appeared to get frustrated, Vander Yacht said. Keyes then pulled out a pocketknife and set it on the counter. He did not move closer to the barista, and the knife remained folded throughout the incident.

When the barista still did not give him coffee, he left. The barista then called police and said she believed he was using the knife to get the coffee without paying.

“A substantial step toward the commission of a crime is equal to having committed the crime, therefore this is a robbery,” Vander Yacht wrote in an email.

Vander Yacht said police have no reason to believe this incident is related to recent robberies of other local businesses.

Police have contacted Keyes several times since 2011, often for issues related to mental illness. Vander Yacht declined to elaborate.