Philomath Police Department

Philomath Police were involved earlier this month in the capture of an armed robbery suspect out of California.

Police officers just never know what could transpire when quickly dispatched to a location. A routine call always has the possibility of becoming a much more serious situation when unknown circumstances are lurking beneath the surface.

Philomath Police officers Matt Moser and Mark Koeppe found themselves in that predicament Jan. 15 when responding to a report of alleged harassment involving an employee at the Mobil gas station on the corner of Main Street and 19th Street.

As it turned out, an armed robbery suspect in a stolen vehicle was in town. Later the same day, he was sitting in cell at Benton County Jail awaiting extradition to California.

"I was really impressed with the quick response from Benton County ... luckily they were in the area," Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said. "If they hadn't come, our officers would've had to take him into custody by themselves. I appreciate the interagency assistance and cooperation. Those are dangerous things when you find a guy that's wanted for armed robbery."

Benjamin Ryan Adam, 28, of Stockton, California, faces charges of interfering with a peace officer, possession of a controlled substance (heroin), resisting arrest, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, fourth-degree domestic violence assault, parole violation and contempt of court.

How did it all come down? It started with a call to police with Moser and Koeppe dispatched to the gas station at approximately 2:13 p.m. on that Monday afternoon. Adam, an ex-boyfriend of one of Mobil's employees, had been there several times to allegedly harass the woman.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Adam parked a white Ford Ranger with California plates in the True Value parking lot. Moments before the officers arrived, they learned that the vehicle was connected to an armed robbery that had involved a handgun and sawed-off shotgun.

Sgt. Randy Hiner and Ofc. Daniel Ball of the Benton County Sheriff's Office were already in the area and able to respond quickly, Rueben said. When seeing law enforcement, the affidavit reports, Adam took off on foot. Ball was in pursuit yelling "stop" and Moser drew his firearm with the same command. Ball warned the man that he would be tased, but Adam continued his attempt to flee.

Moments later, the 5-foot-7, 140-pound suspect was tased and taken into custody, the affidavit shows.

Police transported Adam to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis because of a level of intoxication on controlled substances. Among the items found on him was a clear plastic container with a white substance inside, the affidavit reported, which later tested positive for heroin.

The victim told police that she had ended a relationship with Adam two months earlier after living with him and his uncle in Sacramento before moving back to Oregon, the affidavit reported. She said Adam had tried to get her to leave with him several times and one point, allegedly hit her in the mouth.

County deputy Joe Halahuni watched surveillance camera video at True Value to confirm Adam had been driving the Ford Ranger in the lot, Rueben said.

Philomath Police contacted the owner of the Ford Ranger, who was the uncle that Adam lived with for a period of time in Sacramento. The man told police that just before midnight on Jan. 13, he arrived home from his job as a security officer. When he went into his bedroom, a man came out of his closet with a sawed-off shotgun, the affidavit reported.

"He was then handcuffed, duct-taped around his mouth and his feet were bound," the affidavit reads. "He remained tied up for approximately six hours."

The uncle said he could identify his nephew, who was the second man allegedly present at the robbery, because of his voice and body language. The first man, he believed, was a black male. Both, he reported, were wearing all-black clothing and masks.

The uncle told police that he had kicked his nephew out of the house after discovering that he had been stealing from him.

The next day, the uncle was ordered to call into work to inform them that he would not be coming in. The man told police that he "felt Ben put the pistol to the back of his head to force him to comply with the order."

At that point, the men took his keys and allegedly stole the vehicle. The uncle called police at 9 a.m. Jan. 14.

The affidavit shows that during an interview at Benton County Jail, Adam said "he was unsure why he ran from the police other than it was just a gut reaction because he is an addict." He admitted going to the gas station several times to get his ex-girlfriend to leave with him, the document shows.

Police obtained a search warrant for the Ford Ranger and the Oregon State Crime Lab took possession to test it for DNA and fingerprints. Rueben said they found numerous stolen items related to the victim in Sacramento. No guns, he added, were found in the car.

Besides Moser and Koeppe, Ofc. Kevin Frahm also assisted the investigation by processing evidence.

As of Thursday, the whereabouts of the second suspect were unknown.

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