By Eric Rosane
A 20-year-old Yelm man was arrested Friday evening at a friend’s house in McKenna after he was suspected of robbing the Prairie Hotel’s front desk at gunpoint.
Sgt. Tillman Atkins with the Yelm Police Department said the alleged robbery occurred at about 2 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10. The suspect, identified by police as Bronszon Rathbone, was reportedly let in by a Prairie Hotel employee.
“When he got to the front desk, there was a small exchange of words. At that point, he pulled out the firearm and pointed it at the employee,” Atkins said, adding that there was a demand for money.
The employee complied with Rathbone and handed over the cash drawer, which had somewhere around $400 in it, Atkins said. The suspect was identified at the time as a thin male wearing a dark hoodie, pants and a surgical-type mask.
Yelm officers were dispatched to the Prairie Park Hotel, located at the 700 block of Prairie Park Lane, shortly after the incident. Police set up a perimeter and dispatched a K9 unit out of Tumwater, Atkins said.
“They conducted a two-hour K9 track and were unable to locate the suspect at that time. They were able to locate the cash drawer in a (nearby) trash can,” Atkins said.
Atkins said Yelm officers were also able to locate two individuals who had reportedly given Rathbone a ride from Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma to the Yelm hotel in exchange for cash shortly before the robbery.
It’s not believed the two drivers played a role in the robbery, Atkins said. Rathbone did reportedly use one of the drivers’ phones to Facebook message a friend.
Officers were able to identify Rathbone after reviewing footage from Emerald Queen Casino and the Prairie Park Hotel. The department was familiar with the him, Atkins said, and they were able to determine, through the Facebook message, that he likely fled to a friend’s house in McKenna shortly after the robbery.
Atkins said Yelm officers set up surveillance near the property and arrested him without incident at about 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11. Atkins said he wasn’t aware if the cash was recovered.
“We had great cooperation from surrounding agencies to make this happen,” the Yelm Police Department wrote on its Facebook page.