Man robs Subway shop with toy gun

Police found the suspect hiding behind some dumpsters, and recovered cash, a mask and fake gun reportedly used in heist

A man suspected of stealing two cars back in May added to his rap sheet Wednesday night when he allegedly donned a Halloween mask and robbed a Medford Subway restaurant with a toy gun.

Robert Elbert Johannessen, 36, a Medford transient, was found hiding near the dumpsters behind the Medford Walmart five minutes after he reportedly robbed the Subway in the 1300 block of Center Drive.

He was being held Thursday in the Jackson County Jail on second-degree robbery, third-degree robbery and second-degree theft charges. His bail was set at more than $1 million, jail records showed.

Though the gun was fake, Sgt. Tom Ianieri of Medford police said the threat of violence was enough to prompt a robbery charge.

"The statute states having or purporting to have a weapon is a threat," Ianieri said. "If someone goes into a bank with their finger in their pocket, purporting to have a gun, then it's a robbery."

Earlier Wednesday, a grand jury had already indicted Johannessen on numerous charges related to the alleged thefts of two cars and $2,600 worth of tools in May. Nick Geil, deputy district attorney with the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, said the charges included first- and second-degree burglary, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, first-degree theft and possession of methamphetamine.

Ianieri said Johannessen entered the Subway at 9:37 p.m. and demanded money from the lone employee. The gun is clearly a toy, but police believe Johannessen tried to make it look real by concealing it with a car-wash mitt.

"He did in fact have a toy gun in (his) sleeve, but it would appear to have been an obvious toy," said Lt. Mike Budreau. "I think in his mind, he wanted to put something over it to make it look like a gun. The only problem was the mitt completely covered it."

Police said he made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, ditching his mask and goggles outside the sandwich shop. No customers were in the restaurant, and no one was hurt.

The employee provided a description of Johannessen's tattoos and clothing to police, which was consistent with surveillance video. Investigators found the mask, goggles and gun stashed outside. The mask looks like muscle tissue thinly clinging to a skull, lips curled back in a snarl. Police fanned out and found Johannessen hiding. They arrested him and booked him into jail. Authorities also recovered the stolen cash.

Court records show Johannessen was recently convicted of possession of methamphetamine and second-degree theft. He also was convicted of second-degree burglary and first-degree theft stemming from two separate cases in 2009, records show.

Police said 37 robberies had been reported in Medford through May of this year, up slightly from the 34 reported from January through May in 2012.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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