SEATTLE WA. January 25, 2024— Witnesses call him a hero, but a security officer who stopped an armed robbery suspect is now at risk of potentially returning to prison himself.
Joshua Shuemake said he protected the staff and shoppers at a Whole Foods in Seattle from a woman who is suspected of trying to rob the store at gunpoint. However, Shuemake is not supposed to work as an armed security guard due to his prior criminal conviction.
His interview with KOMO News after stopping the alleged armed robbery attempt alerted federal prosecutors to the problem.
Last Friday, Shuemake was summoned back to court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office told a judge that Shuemake violated the terms of his probation because he is prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons yet was armed himself the day, that he confronted the robbery suspect.
KOMO News spoke to Shuemake just before the hearing started, asking if he believed he violated his probation.
“Absolutely not,” Shuemake said.
The incident stems from when Shuemake was on duty at Whole Foods at 2001 15th Ave W in Seattle on Dec. 22. Surveillance footage appears to show that just after 11 a.m., a woman walked into the crowded store with a gun drawn and headed toward a cashier.
That’s when Shuemake stepped in, saying he immediately spotted a problem with the weapon.
“The slide was all the way up to the rear. The magazine, she didn’t have a magazine inside the weapon,” Shuemake said.
Shuemake ordered the woman outside into the parking lot where he took her down and disarmed her, then waited for Seattle police to arrive and take her into custody.
Defense attorney Casey Arbenz said Shuemake should be praised.
“Mr. Shuemake not only disarmed the person and neutralized the threat, but he did also it in a way that made sure children and others that were shopping in the store didn’t even have to witness an unpleasant scene. He did something heroic and frankly should be lauded for that,” Arbenz said, adding, “The allegation is that he had a Taser on him that he didn’t even use.”
Shuemake was stripped of his gun rights, which included carrying Tasers, after a domestic violence incident in 2021.
“There’s a specific prohibition on possessing firearms after a court has issued a protection order,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Manca, who is now handling the alleged probation violation case.
The domestic violence charge was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can never be refiled again. The prosecutor explained his reasoning in court documents filed Dec. 30, 2022.
“After evaluating this case thoroughly, including the victim’s recent defense interview and other evidence provided by the defense, the State does not believe it can meet its burden beyond a reasonable doubt as to either of the charged offenses,” the prosecutor wrote in those 2022 filings. “The State at this time also considers that the defendant has recently been sentenced in federal court to a prison sentence of over one year and moves the Court to dismiss this cause with prejudice, in the interests of justice.”
Shuemake went to federal prison when a jury convicted him of violating that restriction imposed after the DV incident, even though it ultimately was dismissed. The jury also found Shuemake guilty of witness tampering to cover his tracks.
In the takedown outside Whole Foods, Shuemake never drew a weapon, but indicated to KOMO News in that initial interview that he could have.
“Did you have a weapon on you,” a reporter asked, to which Shuemake replied, “Yes.”
The reporter then said, “OK, and so I didn’t ever see you draw it,” to which Shuemake said, “Yes, no. There wasn’t a need to.”
The attention that news coverage created had Shuemake more cautious on the courthouse steps ahead of Friday’s hearing when he remained silent when a reporter asked him if he was armed with a weapon.
Shuemake is appealing his prior conviction that he wrongfully possessed dangerous weapons following the domestic violence incident in 2021. He says the loss of his gun rights was based on an allegation by the victim that was never proven in court and contends federal prosecutors have gone after him anyway.
Shuemake is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 23 to answer for the possible probation violation.