A man who arrived in Seattle a couple of weeks ago used a fake name to get a job at a strip club, then used his insider knowledge of the business to bind the manager with duct tape and steal $3,000 — much of it in $1 bills — at gunpoint, according to King County prosecutors.
It took Seattle police detectives just three days to organize a surveillance and arrest operation at a downtown apartment building and uncover Tyre M. Johnson’s true identity after the Dec. 15 robbery at Kittens Cabaret, a strip club on Fourth Avenue South in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, charging papers say.
Johnson, 31, was arrested Dec. 18 when he came out of the building on Pine Street and Second Avenue where he had rented a fifth-floor apartment advertised on Airbnb. He has been charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 6, jail and court records show.
The charges filed Monday don’t indicate where Johnson is from, but note he has previously been arrested in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and had what appeared to be an identification card issued in Texas.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Christian Brown wrote in charging papers that Johnson had only been in Washington for two weeks and during “that time period the defendant methodically set up his plan for this violent kidnapping and robbery.”
Brown went on to note that Johnson “has zero ties to this community and appears to have been passing through the state in order to commit his violent felonies.”
Johnson used a fake name to get a job at Kittens Cabaret, worked there “to understand functions and operations of the business,” then used a ploy to get the manager alone in the manager’s office, Brown wrote.
According to the charges:
Just before 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, a recently hired staff member known as Jonathan Egan went to Kittens Cabaret and approached the manager in the main room, claiming his paycheck didn’t reflect the hours he had worked. The two men went to the manager’s private office, which is equipped with a security camera.
The camera captured footage of the robbery, which shows the manager making photocopies of the employee’s documents before the employee pulled a silver revolver and a roll of duct tape from his backpack. The employee held the manager at gunpoint as the manager wrapped duct tape across his mouth and head.
The employee forced the manager to walk over to a safe, then had him kneel on the floor facing the wall. The employee took cash from the safe, as well as money that had been packed into bank bags, and piled it on a couch. Holding the gun to the manager’s head, the employee got him to walk back to his desk, where the employee bound the manager’s hands and feet with duct tape. He filled his backpack with the stolen money and walked out.
The manager was able to free his hands and call 911, then hopped to his office door and alerted his staff about the robbery.
Police arrived and quickly determined most of the information in the employee’s personnel file was false. A female employee provided detectives with a phone number for the man she knew as Jonathan, which turned out to be a prepaid phone with a Portland area code. Staff also told police the employee claimed to have a girlfriend attending the University of Washington.
Detectives obtained a warrant for the employee’s phone number and found another phone number that had been in contact with the phone before and after the robbery. That number ultimately led them to a 22-year-old woman.
She told detectives she knew the suspect as Tyre Taylor and had been at his apartment on the night of the robbery. She described seeing a large amount of cash spread across his table and said they’d gone to dinner that night: “(S)he recalled that it was an expensive dinner and the suspect paid the bill with a large quantity of one (1) dollar bills,” the charges say.
The woman showed detectives the location of her boyfriend’s apartment and pointed out his fifth-floor window overlooking Second Avenue. A detective found an Airbnb listing for the location and photos of the property matched the furnishings and décor the woman had described.
Just before 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 18, a man matching the suspect’s description was seen leaving the building and was stopped by police.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for the apartment and found two loaded handguns, a quantity of $1 bills, clothes worn by the suspect during the robbery and a handwritten ledger. The ledger includes the date of the robbery, next to the words “Kittens Cabaret.” It indicates the “gain” was $3,000 and shows $1,000 was spent at Bellevue Square, $1,000 was used to pay for the apartment rental through Christmas Eve, and $500 had been given to the 22-year-old woman. The ledger’s last line shows there was $300 or $500 remaining, the charges say.