Man lured to robbery: ‘He wanted to shoot me’

Three face charges for "robbery by appointment" in Grand Rapids on Saturday

Grand Rapids police investigating a shooting in the 200 block of Francis Avenue SE on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man looking for a good deal on a computer found himself looking down the barrel of a gun in what police call “robbery by appointment.”

The Grand Rapids Police Department says three people have been arrested for the Saturday robbery that resulted in the victim suffering a gunshot wound.

The 25-year-old Grand Rapids Community College dean’s list student was looking for a good deal on a MacBook Pro and found one on the online app OfferUp, which is similar to Craigslist. It turned out the deal was too good to be true.

“I was shocked. Yeah. I was shocked. I didn’t even know it’s real,” the victim, who asked not to be identified, told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday.

He came to West Michigan from Iran about five years ago and hoped to pursue a career in engineering.

He said the so-called seller said he was selling the computer from his home and claimed he wanted to be careful because he had been robbed previously.

“If they got robbed, they’re kind of the victim, so they shouldn’t be robbers,” the victim said.

But when the victim got to the meeting place on Francis Avenue SE, his instincts told him something was not right.

“’I’m going to drop you off,’ I kind of changed my mind as soon as I told him that. He opened the door and he turned back with a gun,” the victim said. “He said, ‘Where’s the money? I’m gonna kill you.’”

The victim said he was scared for his life.

“I was like, ‘Don’t do this. I’m not rich or anything. Don’t do this,'” the victim recalled.

He believes the robber tried to shoot him once, but forgot to take off the safety.

“He wanted to shoot me, for sure,” the victim said. “He just put it off, the safety, and that made me really scared, so I just went for the gun and he shot me and ran away.”

The bullet hit him in the thigh.

“Thank God, the bullet went right through and it didn’t hit any bone or major vessel,” the victim said.

The bullet passed through his car seat after exiting his leg.

The shooter didn’t get away with any of the victim’s money or property.

Late Saturday night, police surrounded a house near the intersection of Adams Street and Underwood Avenue, where at least one person was taken into custody.

Tuesday, police said that three suspects had been arrested. Anthony Tate, 26; Steven McClain III, 22; and Thalia Martinez, 20 each face a charge of armed robbery, which is punishable by up to life in prison. Tate and McClain each face charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, also punishable by up to life in prison.

Anthony Tate, Steven McClain, Thalia Martinez
Left to right: Anthony Tate, Steven McClain and Thalia Martinez. May 2017 mug shots from the Kent County Correctional Facility.

Tate also faces charges of being a felon of a possession of a firearm and felony firearm, five- and two-year felonies respectively. The victim said he was the shooter.

The three suspects were arraigned Wednesday. They’re expected back in court on June 6 for probable cause hearings and again on June 13 for preliminary hearings.

Six years ago, Tate and McClain were co-defendants in a case of receiving and concealing stolen property. Both were given a break under a program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act that could have kept them from having a felony record if they stayed out of trouble. However, they both later did time in prison and had been out for just over a year before Saturday’s robbery.

The victim in Saturday’s case has some advice for those who buy online:

“Absolutely make sure to meet in a public place and absolutely have somebody with you,” he said.

Police say the best way to stay safe is to do the exchange in the parking lot of your nearest police station.