A Columbia Falls man has been arrested and charged with robbery and assault with a weapon more than a year after he allegedly took a woman’s purse at knifepoint.
Justin Eugene Hetrick was arrested Sept. 21 and will be arraigned in Flathead County District Court on Oct. 8.
According to court documents, on March 28, 2014 Hetrick walked up to a woman who was putting her groceries in her car at a grocery store parking lot in Columbia Falls. Hetrick allegedly tried to grab the woman’s purse and when she told him to stop he said, “I have a knife, do you want to get cut?” Hetrick then allegedly took the knife and cut the purse strap and the woman’s hand. Hetrick grabbed the purse and ran away.
A bystander saw the robbery and tried to follow Hetrick on a four-wheeler, but Hetrick allegedly lunged at the man with the knife. The man fell off his vehicle and Hetrick fled on foot. Later on, a Columbia Falls police officer found Hetrick pacing near a home on Second Avenue West. When the officer approached, Hetrick ran inside and slammed the door. He avoided apprehension and the Flathead County Attorney’s Office did not file charges for over a year, until July when a warrant for his arrest was issued.
If convicted, Hetrick could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and face a $50,000 fine.