Yakima police station

Yakima Herald-Republic file

Yakima police say what started as a shoplifting at a Safeway store Tuesday turned into a first-degree felony when one of the suspects punched a store employee.

Officers arrested a Yakima man and a Shoreline woman in connection with the incident following a chase that ended with the suspects crashing into a building, according to court documents.

Police were called to the Safeway at 905 E. Mead Ave. around 10:20 a.m. for a robbery.

A store employee told police that he saw, through surveillance cameras, a woman in the store take a pink bag and place items inside it, and then leave the store without paying for the items, according to a police affidavit.

Police say the total for the items, including the bag, was $76.75.

The employee confronted the woman in the parking lot, and said he would not call police if she were to give the items back, the affidavit said, but she refused to hand them over.

He then grabbed the bag and took it back to the store while calling 911, the affidavit said.

As he walked back to the store, the employee was confronted by the woman’s companion, who then punched him in the head repeatedly, causing him to bleed from his ear, the affidavit said. After the attack, the man grabbed the bag and took it back to their Lincoln Navigator and drove off, the affidavit said.

As they left, the store employee got a picture of the SUV’s license plate and gave that to police, the affidavit said.

A police officer spotted the SUV as it came up South Fair Avenue, and when he tried to stop it on East Viola Avenue, it sped off, the affidavit said, driving through a construction zone and causing workers to scatter.

The chase continued on South First Street, with speeds reaching up to 60 mph and the SUV nearly hitting oncoming vehicles. It ended when SUV went into an alley and spun out into the back of a tire shop in the 300 block of South First Street.

Police arrested the woman, who was driving, and the man they say punched the store employee, the affidavit said. A third person in the car was not arrested because police said he was not involved in the robbery.

The 24-year-old Yakima man is being held on suspicion of first-degree robbery. Yakima County Superior Court Judge Richard Bartheld set bail at $50,000 during a preliminary appearance hearing Wednesday.

Bartheld set the 22-year-old woman’s bail at $50,000 as well. She is being held on suspicion of first-degree robbery and eluding police.

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