Seattle area residents were shocked by reports of a mass robbery and sexual assaults at a local eatery the night of October 19. However, it turns out the alleged crime at Bob’s Burgers was a hoax involving 10 people who thought it would be a great idea that would result in visas that are available to some victims of crime.
“Today I can confirm to you it was all a lie,” Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said at a press conference on Monday. “Every employee present that evening, every customer, participated in a deliberate hoax.”
Two alleged robbers in masks, one with a handgun, tied up several of the others and stole money, jewelry, and other valuables from them. They also reportedly took two women into a separate area and sexually assaulted them.
The incident was reported by a customer who walked up to order food and saw people tied up inside the restaurant. Two Samoan males were claimed to have been the perpetrators of the crime and were said to have made off in a victim’s truck.
“Participants decided they would pin this fake robbery on two Samoan males. Not only do we have a hoax, we have a racially-motivated one,” Johanknecht said.
“This hoax should be an affront to all of us,” she said, “especially those real victims of violence and sexual assault that U visas were intended to protect.”
Detectives arrived at the conclusion that all 10 people, aged 38 to 51, were in on the audacious con … including the manager, six customers, the two robbers, and an employee who walked into the restaurant after the staged robbery and called the police.
Watch a local TV station’s story shortly after the crime was first reported …
Video by KING 5
SEATAC Police Chief Jon Mattsen told reporters that the stories given by the alleged victims did not align. Eventually, two of them admitted the robbery was dreamed up in an attempt to qualify for U visas.
The U visa is intended for crime victims and immediate family members who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. It allows the victims to enter or remain in the U.S. when they might not otherwise be able to do so.
To top it all off, this little tidbit just may take the cake … according to the Seattle Times, Sgt. Ryan Abbott indicated “the Sheriff’s Office does not know how many of the people involved hoped to apply for a U visa, as it does not ask about immigration status.”
Law enforcement is not allowed to determine who of these alleged criminals actually had a motive?
Chief Mattsen said that investigating the case was “a tremendous waste of resources.” Yet none of those involved in the hoax are in custody, Abbott said.
“Detectives had not yet finished their investigation when conservative talk-show host Jason Rantz posted that the robbery was a hoax, citing anonymous law-enforcement officials,” the Times reported.
When the sheriff was asked if ICE would become involved, she said: “I’m not letting go of this.” She said her office is working with prosecutors to file charges under state law.
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