December 22, 1997
Andrew Walgamott/staff photos
Joanne Elledge, King County Sheriff's media relations officer, answers reporter's questions on a string of armed robberies that came to a deadly end at this Woodinville 7-11. A 17 year old robbery suspect crashed a stolen 1990 Honda Accord into a pickup truck and traffic light post, ending an armed robbery spree which may have began in Seattle. A wallet, cash drawer and bottle of wine had been recovered from the car at press time Monday morning.
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--Gunfire greeted early morning risers in Woodinville last Thursday when a pair of teenagers' crime blitz came to a violent, deadly ending at a local convenience store. Vitaly Kalchik, an 18-year-old Federal Way man, was shot twice by Otto Beach, owner of the 7-Eleven at the corner of N.E. 175th St. and 140th Ave. N.E. Kalchik had pointed a semi-automatic handgun at a clerk's head, police say. Police are saying that no charges will be filed against Beach. "It's legal to use deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon," a King County Sheriff's spokesperson said Monday morning.
A county prosecutor's spokesman echoed the sentiment: "From our understanding, Beach was within the law to use deadly force...We don't anticipate filing any charges against Beach."
Kalchik's alleged 17-year-old accomplice, Roman Federov, was arrested a mile away following a high speed chase and two-car collision. He will be charged with robbery.
Besides the suspects, nobody else was hurt in a string of eight armed robberies the pair may have done in just 90 minutes including two in Woodinville, one in Kenmore, another in Lake Forest Park and four in Seattle. Police are investigating whether the Seattle and Northshore robberies are linked, though timelines and directions of travel connect the two.
Spree, life end at 7-Eleven
Local residents were shaken by the events which came to an end when Kalchik, head wrapped in a white towel, attempted to rob the Woodinville 7-Eleven. King County Sheriff's spokesperson Joanne Elledge said that long-time owner Beach was in an office working on a deposit when he heard a commotion up front at about 7:02 a.m.
He saw Kalchik, a troubled Ukrainian with a six-year criminal history, threatening a clerk with a gun. Beach waited for the suspect to leave. Two clerks and three customers were also in the store. When Kalchik became agitated, Beach felt his employee's life was in danger and confronted the suspect, Elledge said. Police have reconstructed what they believe happened next.
Elledge said that witnesses believe Kalchik fired at Beach. Beach shot, hitting Kalchik in the throat, severing an artery. Kalchik dropped his gun which came to rest under a magazine rack. He fled out the front door. It took a moment for Kalchik's blood to soak through his tight mask and pour onto the concrete outside the store. Blotches marked his final path. Beach fired again through the door, missing the suspect. Kalchik turned left towards the waiting get-away car allegedly driven by Federov. Beach shot again through a front window hitting Kalchik in the left shoulder. Beach then ran outside and shot one more time, missing. Bleeding heavily, Kalchik collapsed face down near a dumpster on the side of the building. Medics attempted to revive him but efforts proved futile. An Evergreen Medic One medical services officer said Kalchik had bled to death, and that he probably had died running.
Cash was strewn around the body, police say.
Kalchik died about ten feet from Federov who was allegedly parked in the Woodin Building lot which is separated from 7-Eleven by a chain link fence.
Police, alerted to the pair's robbery of the BP diagonal to 7-Eleven minutes before, found Federov fleeing east in a black 1990 Honda Accord on Woodinville-Duvall Rd. without any headlights on. The car slid into the intersection of Woodinville-Duvall Rd. and N.E. N. Woodinville Way, collided with a Chevy pickup and spun into a traffic light post. The teen climbed out of the passenger side window and ran up a hill but was tackled by two officers. Federov was airlifted to Harborview Hospital and treated for cuts and abrasions and then booked into the King County Youth Service Center. A 49-year-old Woodinville man and his 15-year-old niece in the truck were shaken but not harmed.
Federov is being held on suspicion of first-degree robbery. He will be charged Tuesday as an adult, according to a King County Prosecutor's Office spokesperson. Police recovered a cash drawer, a wallet from a Seattle man and a bottle of wine from the Honda Monday morning. Fire crews were called in to pry doors open to check the back seat of the car.
Spree starts in Seattle
The robberies began late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning with the theft of the Honda from the University District. The suspect's first victim was a man walking to his car at a gated West Seattle condominium unit at 5:35 a.m. According to Seattle Police Department spokeswoman Christy-Linn Bonner, two suspects confronted the man and stole his wallet. A gunshot was heard though nobody was hurt. Next, the pair struck a Best Western Executive Inn near the Seattle Center at 5:55 a.m., making off with cash. From there it was a few blocks to the Marriot Residence Inn near Lake Union where at 6:07 a.m. a man displayed a handgun and took cash and coins. A 7-Eleven store in Lake City was hit next at 6:22 a.m. where the suspect produced a gun and took money.
Kalchik and Federov allegedly headed north and east on Bothell Way, stopping at a Lake Forest Park Texaco in the 16800 block of State Route 522 (Bothell Way) at 6:30 a.m.
Detective Bill Miller of the Lake Forest police said a suspect rushed past a female clerk smoking a cigarette outside the station, found nobody inside the building and then dragged the clerk in, taking the cash drawer which contained less than $100. A mile further east, the cash drawer from the U-Save Chevron at 61st Ave. N.E. and SR 522 was taken.
Then at 6:56 a.m., just before dawn, the suspects hit Woodinville, their final stop.
Chris Erlandson, a Pepsi delivery man making his rounds, said he saw the pair cruise by the BP. The Honda skidded to a stop, backed up, but went into the Woodinville Towne Center parking lot when they saw Erlandson. While Erlandson went for a bagel, the pair came back and robbed the BP, making off with a cash drawer. At that point more than 50 officers were on their trail. The suspects then drove across the street to 7-Eleven where Kalchik was fatally shot.
Four shell casings and one bullet jacket believed to belong to Beach's gun have been found so far. No shells from Kalchik's gun were found though Elledge said his gun may have jammed. Ballistics tests will determine whether the gun was fired. Test results could come in a few days or after the holidays, Elledge said. Kalchik's gun was reported stolen from a vehicle in Issaquah Dec. 14. Elledge said there is a gray area for justifiable shooting. "You've got a situation with a suspect in a store with a gun pointed at a clerk. The threat of imminent danger is enough to allow the store owner to take action," Elledge said. "As a police officer, pointing a gun at me is enough reason for me to use deadly force."
Ron Conlin, a loss prevention manager for Southland Corp., 7-Eleven's parent company, said that despite the company's "no weapons, no resistance" policy, he felt Beach's reaction was the right one. "We feel he was justified protecting the life of an employee." Of Beach's emotional reaction, Conlin said, "He's distraught that he took a human life, but relieved it wasn't his employee [who was shot]." Conlin said that the Woodinville franchise had had its problems with shoplifting but said the robbery was very unusual. Woodinville Police Sgt. Clint Olson could only recall two other armed robberies in town all year.
Kalchik and Federov have a long criminal past. Kalchik had 12 offenses in the past four years, eight as a juvenile between 1993 and 1995 and four as an adult in 1997.
Federov has at least 29 offenses, with nine convictions in the past three years, ranging from attempted vehicle prowl to auto theft, possession of stolen property, driving without a license and unlawful imprisonment.
On Friday morning, flowers, a card reading "May God be with you in your loss" and a candle were placed where Kalchik died. A Southland official blew out the candle and said police had recommended against allowing memorials at the scene. "If these are from the family, I will be sure they get them back," the official said.