Fall City robbery raises local concerns

When Lois Buschen, owner of the River's Edge in Fall City, saw a young adult male walk into her gift shop at about 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, she thought nothing of it.

When Lois Buschen, owner of the River’s Edge in Fall City, saw a young adult male walk into her gift shop at about 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, she thought nothing of it. He browsed for about 20 minutes, stopped at the door, said thank you and walked outside, she said.

“This was a clean-shaven, no-tattoos, no-facial-piercing, polite [teenager],” she said. “I would not have given this particular young man a second thought.”

That was until he returned about 30 minutes later.

Alone in the store, Buschen, 50, saw the young man re-enter and walk to the Mother’s Day items displayed on the far wall. She was behind the counter.

He walked toward her and, using profanity, told her to open the cash register, Buschen said. He was then carrying an expandable baton.

She said, “I was just thinking, ‘What?'”

“I said, ‘No, get out of here,'” she added.

According to Buschen, he repeated his request for her to open the register two or three more times.

“He said, “I’m not joking,” she said.

Then he opened the baton and hit the cash register and the register keys, according to police reports. Buschen had a can of pepper spray hidden behind the counter and as she moved toward it, he reached across the counter and struck her in the head.

He then picked up the cash register and threw it to the floor, breaking a glass table and causing the register to open once it landed. He grabbed $60 in cash; there was about $300 in it at the time.

At the same time, Buschen grabbed her can of pepper spray and sprayed him in the eyes.

“I didn’t even think, I just reacted,” she said.

He ran out the door while she grabbed the phone to call the police.

“I said, ‘I’ve been robbed and assaulted’ and at that point, I realized I was bleeding badly,” she said, noting that she received stitches for the laceration to the right side of her head. “I was just shaking horribly.”

Seventeen-year-old Zachary James Marcella of Fall City was arrested Thursday, May 18, and charged as an adult by the state of Washington with robbery in the first degree.

He is alleged to have committed theft while threatening or using force while armed with a deadly weapon (the baton), according to the office of the prosecuting attorney of King County.

He is also accused of attempted robbery in the second degree for trying to steal beer from the Stevens Family Market in Fall City on May 12, according to King County officials. The owners of the market declined to be interviewed for this article.

His arraignment is on May 31, where Marcella will be charged and allowed to enter a plea before the pretrial date is set. If the case goes to trial and he is convicted, there is a possible sentence range of about three-to-four-and-a-half years. The prosecuting attorney’s office requested bail be set at $1 million before the arraingment and the courts granted the request.

As the owner of the River’s Edge for five years – a year and a half at this location – Buschen said she had never experienced a crime like this one. She and her two employees often worked solo shifts.

Since the assault, Buschen has had her 22-year-old son Scott, a mechanic, by her side for an undetermined amount of time. She also has an 18-year-old daughter who works part time in the store.

“I was pretty pissed off,” her son said. “I didn’t feel safe having my mom and my little sister in the store … I’m here until the kid is put away.”

Many members of the community have since stopped by her store to lend their support or bring her gifts.

“I see his face; it’s hard to sleep,” Buschen said. “The community support has been great. If I could stop shaking, everything would be fine.”

The arrest and bail amount were the best outcomes she could have hoped for, she said.

To fix the damage done to her store, Buschen will have to spend at least $800 for repairs to the table, counter space and register. As a private business owner, she is responsible for her own insurance.

Buschen said she is looking into getting video surveillance for the store and has purchased a taser stun gun.

After the incident, Buschen said that one of her well-wishers commented, “We live in a Norman Rockwell town. How could this happen here?”

She said she was thinking the same thing.

For her, she has learned a bittersweet lesson to not always trust her own instincts.

“I’ve always told [her employees] to stay behind the counter [if there is a suspicious customer], but I was behind the counter and it didn’t save me,” she said. “Even now that he’s arrested, it’ll take some time to get used to things again.”