PHOENIX (AP) — A fired strip club employee masterminded a plot to rob his former employer of up to $500,000 he believed was stored in the business' safe, a plan that unraveled on New Year's Eve and led to the shooting of a Phoenix police officer and a volunteer sheriff's posse member, according to court documents.
Jason Beau Keep and two other people have been arrested in the brazen midday robbery that fell apart when the suspects spotted a large crowd outside the club that was their intended target, police said.
The thieves, authorities say, instead followed two employees and robbed them of $18,000 outside a nearby restaurant before their confrontation with the officer and civilian, both of whom remained hospitalized in critical condition. Authorities are still seeking a fourth suspect, William Herbert Mayes, 30, on suspicion of armed robbery.
Roger Allen Sharp Jr., 26, was being held on suspicion of attempted murder, resisting arrest and aggravated assault, among other counts. David Lee Murray, 36, faces charges of armed robbery and assault.
Keep, 35, was arrested a few days later on suspicion of armed robbery.
Attorneys for Sharp and Murray didn't return telephone messages Tuesday. No attorney was listed for Keep. Authorities did not immediately respond to a request for interviews of the suspects in jail.
According to court records released this week, Keep was fired from the Pink Rhino Cabaret in Phoenix just before Christmas.
During interrogations of the suspects, police said Sharp told them Keep recruited others to carry out the plan. The suspects discussed the club's layout, where surveillance cameras were and Keep's contention that the club's safe could hold up to $500,000, police said.
The plan to rob the club around 2 p.m. was scrapped after Mayes spotted the crowd outside, according the court papers.
Police say Sharp and Murray then followed the two strip club employees to an east Phoenix restaurant where they robbed the men at gunpoint and stole a duffel bag stuffed with $18,000.
The pair crashed their car while being followed by Phoenix police Officer Scott Sefranka, authorities said.
Murray ran off, but Sharp was confronted by Sefranka, 34, and Phillip Grigg, 63, an Army veteran and member of the Maricopa County sheriff's volunteer posse who tried to help the officer, according to authorities. Police say Sharp wrestled the officer's gun away and shot both men before fleeing into a nearby neighborhood.
Sharp forced his way into a home, telling the resident, "I just shot a cop," according to the court documents.
Both men were arrested a short time later.
Keep, the former strip club employee, once played center for University of San Diego and later Oklahoma State University's basketball team. He is described on the Oklahoma State website as an "eccentric ... heavily tattooed big man who once defeated an OSU teammate at chess in four moves."
Keep also once played professionally for the Philippine Basketball Association.