Armed robber to Ferndale minimart clerk: ‘Really, really sorry’

A man suspected of robbing a gas station on Slater Road was arrested minutes later in a Ferndale neighborhood late Thursday, April 21.

Around sunset a man wearing a gray-and-black Rastafarian-style beanie walked into an ampm gas station, at 1197 Slater Road, and looked around to see if anyone else was inside, said Kevin Doucette, 28, the store’s assistant manager. The man grabbed candy from near the cash register and put it on the counter.

Then he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Doucette, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. He said he wanted the candy and “all the money in the register,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The robber — white, about 6 foot, in a dark gray sweatshirt — tucked the gun into a jacket and ran outside with about $650.

According to Doucette, as the man left he said: “Hey, man, I'm really, really sorry about this, but sometimes things happen.”

Doucette held up his hands in a way that caught the attention of someone outside. That witness snapped a cellphone photo of the man’s truck: a black extended cab Chevy pickup, with a canopy and a white sticker on the back window. In the meantime, the clerk called for police at 7:57 p.m.

The truck headed north on Pacific Highway, a road that runs along Interstate 5. Moments later a Ferndale officer spotted the Chevy going east on West Smith, and tailed it a few hundred feet up Belfern Drive, a residential street about 1 ½ miles north of the gas station.

A sheriff’s deputy arrived as backup. They stopped the truck and detained the driver, Jacob Taylor Winkle, 21, at gunpoint. He’d taken off his gray sweatshirt, but it was found in the truck along with about $650 cash and a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun, Chadwick said.

Two witnesses came to the scene and confirmed he was the man at the gas station, Chadwick said. Doucette said he was hugely impressed that police caught the suspect in about 10 minutes.

Winkle admitted to the crime, Chadwick said, and within the hour he’d been booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of robbery in the first degree.

Winkle, a resident of Des Moines, Wash., told police he’d been staying in the area with family. Court records suggest Winkle has no felony record in Washington state.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb