BY LAURELLE WALSH
Winthrop Marshal Dave Dahlstrom was dispatched from his home at around 2 a.m. on May 27 for a burglary in progress at Winthrop’s landmark Tenderfoot general store.
The only witness was Brian Tillman, bartender that night at Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon across the street. Tillman was locking the saloon’s front door at closing time when he saw three white males in their early 20s going out the front doors of the Tenderfoot across the street.
Tillman called 911 and followed the suspects a short distance toward the Winthrop Barn before thinking the better of it and returning to Jack’s. “There were three of them and one of me,” said Tillman.
Dahlstrom responded in his personal vehicle, noting a pickup truck with a motorcycle in the back, heading south on the highway as he entered town. “It was the only vehicle in town,” he said.
The pickup had caught his attention when he was off duty earlier in the day and noticed an individual “riding” the motorcycle in the back of the truck. “I had a feeling,” said Dahlstrom.
The burglars had broken the glass out of the Tenderfoot’s front door in order to enter the store. Tenderfoot owner Paul Burgess arrived on the scene around 3 a.m. and was able to describe missing and damaged items to the marshal.
Burgess told Dahlstrom that the last customers of the day were three white males in their early 20s who had been in the store three nights in a row, he told the News. The men had asked Burgess about some sweatshirts and Marlboro 100s cigarettes. They even told Burgess where they were staying, “at the yellow house on the highway outside of town,” after getting kicked out of Big Twin Lake Campground, he said.
Burgess had also seen what the suspects were driving: a pick-up truck with a motorcycle in the back.
Dahlstrom headed out in a patrol car to search Big Twin Lake Campground, and finding nothing suspicious there, headed toward the only yellow house he knew of on Highway 20 just past Twin Lakes Road, he said.
There Dahlstrom found the pickup truck he had seen earlier. Looking inside the cab he saw clothing that matched the description of missing items from the Tenderfoot, and in the truck bed a hanging flower basket like the ones along Riverside Avenue in town, he said.
Dahlstrom left the residence and called for backup, meeting Winthrop officer Ken Bajema and Okanogan County sheriff’s deputy Tait Everett at the intersection of Highway 20 and Twin Lakes Road.
The officers talked to the owner of the residence, who said that his relatives had put some items in his garage earlier, and gave the officers permission to search the garage. Inside the garage were “five guys asleep on the floor,” Dahlstrom said.
The owner of the truck identified himself, and gave permission to search the truck. Dahlstrom also searched a backpack in the truck and found cigarette cartons similar to those described by Burgess.
The officers detained the five individuals, read them their rights, and took them to the Marshal’s Office for questioning. “They all confessed to being involved in the burglary,” Dahlstrom said.
Three individuals, Calvin Alfred Longstaff, Lane Michael Askvig and Steven Paul Blau, all 18 years old and from Burlington, Wash., were arrested and taken to the Okanogan County Jail. Each was charged with second-degree theft, second-degree burglary and criminal conspiracy.
In addition to the early morning burglary that day, Winthrop officers responded to two collisions and a possible DUI and directed Memorial Day traffic at the four-way stop, according to Dahlstrom.