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A Jackson County Sheriff's detective follows as a Toyota Highlander reportedly used as a getaway vehicle in a marijuana robbery is towed for evidence. [Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan]

Gun-wielding pot robbers in Ashland nabbed in Central Point

Two men who allegedly stole marijuana at gunpoint near Ashland Thursday afternoon before fleeing north were arrested by the time they made it to Central Point.

Jackson County sheriff's Sgt. Jesse Ainsworth said at least two armed suspects stole an amount of marijuana between three and 15 pounds near the corner of Eagle Mill Road and Oak Street outside Ashland before fleeing in a pearl white Toyota Highlander. The robbery was reported at about 5:14 p.m. Ainsworth said the victim also reported that the suspects took his phone.

Eighteen minutes later, Oregon State Police pulled the Highlander over at the Chevron gas station near the Central Point offramp, with their guns drawn. Sheriff's deputies and Central Point police weren't far behind.

The victim reported that three armed suspects were involved in the robbery, but only two men were in the vehicle, according to Ainsworth. He said it's unclear whether a third suspect is outstanding while the investigation's at its earliest stages.

"We can't say with 100 percent certainty, but we believe we have everybody," Ainsworth said.

Ainsworth attributed the quick capture to local dispatchers, who "did a great job" putting out an accurate vehicle description to various police agencies.

"It really helped us track 'em down," Ainsworth said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the crossover SUV belonged to the suspects, was a rental vehicle or had been stolen. The newer vehicle was equipped with an aftermarket roof storage compartment and had custom Oregon "Wine Country" plates

Chevron employee Bryce Roy said the entire lot was “filled with police” just after 5:30 p.m. He witnessed police take two men into custody, which he described as black men who appeared to be in their mid-20s.

Once on scene, police immediately directed Chevron staff and bystanders to a safe distance, Roy said.

“They did everything right, but they all had guns out so it was terrifying," he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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