Two men and a boy are in jail Thursday, accused of threatening a clerk with knife while trying to steal $13 worth of beer.
Vasiliy G. Lemeza, 18, is held on felony counts of robbery, assault with a weapon and criminal endangerment, along misdemeanor counts of theft and obstructing an officer. Timothy Joseph Gotta, 18, is held on felony counts of robbery and criminal endangerment, along with misdemeanor charges of assault and obstructing an officer. Charges on the juvenile were not available Thursday morning.
According to Missoula County Sheriff's Lt. Rich Maricelli, Lemeza and the boy went into the Hellgate Trading Post store at 6145 Mullan Road about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The boy allegedly distracted a female clerk there while Lemeza grabbed a 18-can pack of Bud Lite beer. They both ran from the store. The clerk called for a co-worker to come help.
The other employee, Sid Cannon, 39, chased the two men toward the Mullan Trail subdivision. He caught up with them as they were getting into a car driven by Gotta, according to Maricelli. Gotta allegedly punched Cannon several times in the head, but Cannon was able to turn off the car's ignition.
According to the sheriff's report, Lemeza then got a hunting knife out of the car and threatened Cannon. Gotta got the car started again, but Lemeza and the boy ran from the scene. Cannon was able to stop the car again, and officers arrived to arrest Gotta in the car. Lemeza and the boy were arrested after a short pursuit in the neighborhood.
The two adults are expected to appear in Missoula County Justice Court this afternoon. Cannon was treated for injuries from the punches at the scene. He was not hurt by the knife, Maricelli said.