Tobacco brand smokes armed robbery suspect

Thomas Blackmon

Grand Junction police detectives linked a man to his second alleged armed robbery in a 19-day period by following his taste in smoking tobacco, according to an arrest affidavit.

Thomas W. Blackmon, 51, was advised Thursday of pending charges including aggravated robbery, second-degree assault, menacing and theft in connection with the Dec. 29, 2012, knifepoint robbery of Smoker Friendly, 2692 U.S. Highway 50.

Blackmon was already jailed for allegedly committing the Jan. 17 knifepoint robbery of Papa John’s Pizza, 1310 North Ave. Blackmon was arrested on Jan. 17 after brandishing a 4-inch knife at the pizza shop, while explaining to an employee, calmly, “I just want the money,” and fleeing with cash, an affidavit said.

Police didn’t initially move to charge Blackmon in the Smoker Friendly case after a store clerk was unable to select Blackmon’s photo from a lineup of suspects.

The clerk told police a man on Dec. 29 walked into the store, came to the counter and asked for a can of Bugler tobacco, the affidavit said.

While retrieving the item, the suspect came behind the counter and hit him repeatedly with a closed fist. Officers later observed on store surveillance video five strikes to the victim’s body or head.

The suspect brandished a knife and eventually fled the store with $861 in cash.

When detectives asked store employees to check records for their last transaction involving Bugler tobacco, they came across a credit card sale on 
Dec. 22, the affidavit said.

Video of the transaction showed a man wearing clothing similar to the suspect from the Dec. 29 robbery, the affidavit. The card had an illegible first-name signature and last name of “Blackman.”

Detectives on Feb. 1 received credit card account information from American Express, identifying Blackmon as the card owner and showing several transactions, including the 
Dec. 22 sale at Smoker Friendly.

Video surveillance showed clothing worn by the suspects in the Jan. 17 and Dec. 29 robberies appeared similar, the affidavit said.

Blackmon had a folding knife in a backpack at the time of his arrest Jan. 17 after the Papa John’s robbery, in addition to a weapon “constructed of something hard, possibly six AA batteries wrapped in silver duct tape,” the affidavit said.

“The white shoes that the defendant was wearing (at time of arrest) matched the white shoes worn by Blackmon on Dec. 22, 2012, when he purchased the Bugler with his American Express Card,” the affidavit said.


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