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Man involved in car-wash crash linked to Walmart restroom robbery

A man charged with destroying a Medford car-wash bay in an alleged drunken-driving crash this morning is suspected of being the getaway driver for a robbery suspect who stole a gun from a man in a Walmart restroom last week.

Medford police reported that Jesse Lazalde, 25, was cited and released on charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and criminal mischief. No charges will be filed in the bathroom robbery, police said.

"We just didn't have enough to prove he knew what was going down," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said of the robbery. 

Lazalde remained at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center today with "severe" lower leg injuries, according to Medford police. He was in fair condition, hospital officials said. 

Police said Lazalde was traveling south on Central Avenue in a 2003 Buick Le Sabre just before 5 a.m. when he missed the curve and drove into a bay at John Pierce Car Wash. The crash knocked out a support beam and spun the car around, collapsing one of the bay's brick walls in the process.

"The bricks went all every which way," said Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Rick Rohrbough. "Major, major damage." 

Fire crews had to cut off the car's roof to extricate Lazalde. He was taken to RRMC to be treated for the leg injuries. No one else was injured. 

Police believe Lazalde was with a man who committed a strong-arm robbery Sept. 17 in a restroom at the south Medford Walmart. A 25-year-old man with a valid concealed weapon permit walked into the bathroom, followed by 28-year-old Joshua Lee Wright, police said. Wright and Lazalde had entered the store about the same time, police said. 

Wright allegedly tried to grab the 25-year-old's gun, a .40-caliber Springfield XD pistol, out of his waistband without success, then punched him in the face, grabbed the gun and pointed it at the man, ordering him to leave the restroom. Surveillance footage shows Wright ran out an emergency exit and met Lazalde outside, police said.

Wright was arrested Sept. 18 after being spotted loitering outside the Jackson County Jail. He remains held there without bail on charges of first-degree robbery, being a felon in possession of a weapon and a parole violation from a previous robbery case, according to jail records.  

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Medford Fire-Rescue responds to a crash in the 1000 block of South Riverside Avenue early Friday morning. Photo courtesy of Medford Fire-Rescue