Alleged Basalt robber will face fourth charge
BASALT – The Basalt man who allegedly robbed Clark’s Market at gunpoint Jan. 24 has been charged with three felonies and will soon face a fourth, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Thursday.
Jonas Garcia Leon Jr., 28, was charged with first-degree burglary, theft and menacing. A fourth charge of aggravated robbery was omitted from the initial criminal complaint because of a clerical error, Hurlbert said. The complaint will be amended within the next few days to add that charge.
The case was an eye-opener in Basalt because armed robberies are rare and because Leon allegedly robbed people he had worked with less than two years before at Clark’s Market. He was recognized by the cashier he allegedly held up even though he tried to conceal his identity with a beanie on his head and a yellow scarf over his face, police said.
Leon is accused of entering Clark’s around 8:44 p.m. on a Sunday and approaching the cashier with a demand for money, Basalt police said. The cashier recognized Leon and initially didn’t take the robbery seriously.
That changed when the robber came around the counter and pulled a .380 handgun out of his pocket. The cashier collected and handed over the cash from the register.
There were four employees in the store at the time, including the cashier. Two others also witnessed the alleged armed robbery and also identified Leon, police said.
The robber fled through the front door, and employees called police with the suspect’s identity and his place of residence.
Leon was arrested 16 minutes later at a house on Homestead Drive, two blocks uphill from the grocery store. Police officers said they read Leon his rights and that he consented to a search. They allegedly found a handgun matching the one described in the robbery and more than $1,000 in a Clark’s grocery bag.
The handgun wasn’t loaded when it was recovered by police, Hurlbert said, and it presumably wasn’t loaded at the grocery store. That didn’t have a bearing on what charges were filed, he said, noting the cashier reasonably feared for her life.
“The person doesn’t know if the gun is loaded,” Hurlbert said.
The aggravated robbery charge that will be filed reflects the fact that Leon allegedly had a gun, Hurlbert said. The felony menacing charge states the victim was “in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by use of a deadly weapon.”
The burglary charge was filed because Leon allegedly remained unlawfully in the grocery store with the intent to commit the crime of theft, Hurlbert said.
Leon is being held in the Eagle County jail without bond. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on him to investigate his immigration status.
Leon is being represented by the public defender’s office. He waived a public hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to support the charges against him. He is scheduled to appear in Eagle County District Court on March 11.
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team fought off a couple of key injuries to finish in a 1-1 draw with visiting Roaring Fork on Thursday night on the AHS turf. Over in New Castle, Basalt girls soccer edged out Coal Ridge for a 1-0 win.