Charges: St. Paul robber agreed not to steal pie fixings

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2013 - 9:59 PM

A gunman outside the Cub Foods in Roseville carjacked a couple last month.


Police say this surveillance image shows Jason L. Armstrong outside the Cub Foods in Roseville, wearing a traffic vest, just moments before he carjacked and robbed a couple in the parking lot.

Photo: Provided by Roseville police,

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A gunman posing as a shopping cart shagger carjacked a couple leaving a Roseville grocery store and robbed them of credit cards, cash, identification and most — but not all — of their groceries.

Authorities says that longtime thief Jason L. Armstrong showed his sensitive side, when he skipped dessert and let his victims keep the makings of a Father’s Day pie before fleeing on foot.

Armstrong, 42, of St. Paul, now stands charged with first-degree aggravated robbery and two counts of kidnapping. He remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear Monday afternoon in Ramsey County District Court.

Roseville Police Lt. Lorne Rosand described the victims as “an older couple” from the east metro, but he declined to reveal their identities, saying they have concerns about their safety.

“The woman was strong enough to ask for her pie and strawberries,” the lieutenant said.

St. Paul police also consider Armstrong “a person of interest” in grocery store robberies on June 8 and June 16 at the Kowalski’s on Grand Avenue that have “similarities” with the Roseville case, said Police Sgt. Paul Paulos.

According to the criminal complaint and police:

Late at night on June 14, a couple loaded their groceries and got in their SUV outside the Roseville Cub Foods. Armstrong got in the back seat, and put a .45-caliber pistol to the head of the woman in the passenger seat.

Armstrong told the man to drive to an ATM, demanding that they use their credit cards to withdraw cash. The victims said they didn’t know their personal identification numbers and could not access the ATM.

The man then was ordered to turn over his wallet, which he did — but not before pulling out several hundred dollars without the gunman noticing. He then gave Armstrong his wallet, credit cards, driver’s license and $25.

The gunman ordered the couple to drive him to the area of Snelling and Thomas Avenue in St. Paul. As they drove along, “the couple spoke to the man about God’s plan, and he seemed to calm down,” the complaint read.

When they stopped, Armstrong asked for the couple’s groceries. The woman said fine, but she wanted to keep the pie crust and strawberries so she could make a pie for Father’s Day.

Armstrong took all of the groceries from the back of the SUV but granted the woman’s request to leave behind the strawberries and pie crust before fleeing on foot.

The couple gave police a detailed description of the gunman and his clothing. Video surveillance from in front of the store showed Armstrong just moments earlier wearing a fluorescent green traffic vest and posing as a cart retriever.

Police also learned that the stolen credit cards were used soon after to buy gas for two vehicles at a station near where Armstrong got out of the SUV. A gas station employee told police that the same two vehicles were there a week earlier in connection with another case of a stolen credit card.

Police reviewed Metro Transit bus surveillance on the night of the Cub Foods carjacking and spotted Armstrong getting off the bus about 90 minutes before the robbery and close to the Cub in Roseville.

Authorities caught up with Armstrong on July 3, when St. Paul police officers were called to a burglary unfolding in the 12000 block of James Avenue. Officers entered the attic in pursuit of Armstrong, who then climbed onto the roof.

After several hours of negotiating with police, Armstrong came down and surrendered.

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