Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 at about 4:30 p.m.,  a male subject, approximately 30 years old, entered the Ace Hardware at 2197 Central Avenue in McKinleyville. The subject walked to the clothing section, grabbed four pairs of Carhartt pants, and proceeded to walk out the front door of the business without paying for the pants. The subject was confronted by an employee, who asked the subject if he paid for the pants. The male subject said “No” and continued walking out the door where he was confronted by another employee who also questioned the male subject about payment for the pants. The subject again said he did not pay for the pants. 

When the employee told the subject he would have to pay for the pants, the subject again said “No.” The subject then produced a folding knife, which he opened, and pointed at the employee, and again said “No.” The subject then began to make a call on his cell phone and ran from the business eastbound on Pickett Road and then through the nearby Thunderbird Trailer Park. 

The suspect soon jumped a fence and entered a shop building on Pickett Road and hid in the attic. The owner of the shop called 911 and stated he believed the suspect was hiding in his attic. Deputies responded to the shop and ordered the suspect to come out of the attic. The suspect surrendered and exited the attic with his hands in the air. Deputies took the suspect into custody without further incident. The suspect, 27 year old Gene Chester Nelson of Hoopa, was booked at the HCCF [Humboldt County Correctional Facility] for armed robbery. Nelson also had a misdemeanor warrant for petty theft and possession of a controlled substance.

The knife and the stolen pants were recovered on the ground in the Thunderbird Trailer Park. No injuries were sustained by any parties during the robbery or the arrest. A deputy later questioned Nelson about the pants he was wearing at the time of arrest as the pants appeared new. Nelson eventually admitted that he had recently stolen the pants he was wearing from an unknown house in Hoopa, from a woman known only as “Taylor.” Apparently the woman may not be aware of the theft. Deputies will conduct a follow up investigation and attempt to locate “Taylor.”

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Previously: Armed Robbery at McKinleyville Ace Hardware