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Robbery suspect linked to HR holdup

A Portland man arrested Feb. 21 as a suspect in a series of motel robberies around western Oregon is believed to be the man who committed an October 2013 robbery at a Hood River motel.

On Feb. 21, Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team arrested 40-year-old Ernest Lee Dean after a high-risk traffic stop at the intersection of North Lombard Street and North Delaware Avenue.

Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detectives, with direct assistance from the Cannon Beach Police Department, Newport Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, served several search warrants throughout the day which resulted in the discovery of evidence linked directly to a string of robberies throughout Oregon and Washington.

On Oct. 11, a man entered the lobby of Comfort Suites Motel on west Cascade, brandished an apparent weapon and robbed the lone employee on duty, tying the employee up with plastic zip ties around his wrists.

Hood River Police Det. Mike Martin said Tuesday that crime lab investigations of zip ties and partial DNA tied Dean to the Hood River case and others. The case is now under review by the Hood River District Attorney’s office for potential charges.

“It was great police work by all the agencies combined, all the evidence collected and turned in, and the collaborative efforts between many police departments,” Martin said.

Dean was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of robbery in the first degree and robbery in the second degree and was scheduled for arraignment Monday. Additional charges from numerous jurisdictions are expected.

According to Portland Police, the investigation began Sept. 5, 2013, when the Silver Cloud Inn, located at 2426 N.W. Vaughn in Portland, was robbed at gunpoint by a masked subject wielding a handgun and purporting to have a bomb. The suspect bound the hotel employees and a delivery person by the hands and stole money from the hotel.

The next day, a similarly described subject robbed the La Quinta at 8815 S.W. Sun Place in Wilsonville. The suspect was wielding a handgun and purporting to have a bomb. The suspect bound the hotel employees, and stole an undisclosed sum of money.

Portland Police robbery detectives consulted with investigators with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and a joint investigation ensued.

The robbery pattern continued sporadically, where the suspect would wield a handgun and purport to have an explosive device, bind the hotel employees by the hands, and steal money from the hotel.

The additional robberies occurred in Hood River, Gresham, Cannon Beach, Albany and Newport, and one in Woodland, Wash.

The Cannon Beach Police Department was able to develop information, which led to a person of interest. Additional investigative follow-up by Portland Police robbery detectives and the Cannon Beach Police Department resulted in the identification of Ernest Dean as the suspect. Additional investigation also implicated Dean in a bank robbery in Lake Oswego.

This investigation was a collaborative effort between the Portland Police Bureau, and agencies in each of the smaller communities, along with the FBI.

If anyone has additional information about Dean or the robberies, they are encouraged to contact Martin at 541-387-5256.

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