LOCAL NEWS

3 men facing federal charges, accused of robbing mailman at gunpoint

Oct 26, 2022, 9:48 AM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 6:18 pm
Three men are facing federal charges for allegedly robbing a postal carrier at gunpoint and taking ...
Three men are facing federal charges for allegedly robbing a postal carrier at gunpoint and taking a master key that allows access to various mail collection boxes (Salt Lake City Police)
(Salt Lake City Police)

SALT LAKE CITY — Three men are facing federal charges for allegedly robbing a postal carrier at gunpoint and taking a master key that allows access to various mail collection boxes.

Nathan Suaste, of West Valley, Exodus Matua and Lorenzo Saavedra were arrested and charged on Oct. 19 with robbery of property of the United States.

District court records show that Suaste and Saavedra remain in custody following an initial appearance and detention hearing on Oct. 21, while Matua was released on conditions including appearing in court as required and reporting regularly to a pretrial officer.

On Aug. 19 at about 2:20 p.m., Salt Lake City police were notified by a 911 call of an armed robbery that occurred in the parking lot of a chapel owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to district court records. When officers arrived at the church, located at 1250 W. 1400 South in Salt Lake City, they determined that a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier was robbed of his “arrow key” by two people with handguns, who afterward ran south then east on 1400 South, the records state.

An arrow key is “a universal key used by the U.S. Postal Service to access mail collection boxes, outdoor parcel lockers, cluster box units and apartment panels,” the charging documents note. “Generally, arrow keys are assigned to letter carriers for use on their delivery and collection routes. They are called arrow keys because of the arrow conspicuously stamped on them.”

The letter carrier told police that he had been parked in the church parking lot eating lunch when two strangers appeared, the charging documents state. Both had handguns, but one gun had a longer, extended magazine, the letter carrier said, and one man told him to hand over his arrow key.

As he did so, “he was punched in the face by one or both individuals,” according to charging documents, and then they both ran away in a southerly direction. The letter carrier told police that nothing else of value was taken, including his wallet, the charging documents read.

Police then canvassed the area and spoke with a witness who said they saw two individuals run south on Concord Street and then east on 1400 South, the charging documents continue. At the intersection of 1400 South and 1200 West, they entered a silver or “darker grey” Dodge Charger which then drove north toward California Avenue. The witness also told police that both individuals had a handgun, one with an extended magazine, the charging documents state.

Officers also reviewed surveillance footage taken by the Glendale Library at 1367 Concord Street, directly adjacent to the church, and “obtained a video of what appeared to be the armed robbery,” with one individual wearing all black and another wearing all gray except for black shoes, according to charging documents. They also observed the person in gray carrying a handgun with an extended magazine, the documents continue.

On Aug. 23, police received a tip identifying Nate Suaste as a possible suspect, according to charging documents. The caller said Suaste drives a dark gray Dodge with no license plate, and had previously contacted the caller via Instagram about taking keys from a mailman. On further conversation with police, the caller told officers that Suaste had also been posting on Snapchat about finding a mailman and a key, charging documents state.

A second tip the following day also identified Suaste as a possible suspect. The caller also said on Aug. 19 or 20, he went to a McDonald’s with Suaste and other friends, where Suaste showed the caller “a large gold key that was square on the top and was possibly attached to a black lanyard.” Additionally, police discovered the Dodge is registered to the West Valley address where Suaste lives.

Police later met with a source who showed them Snapchat conversations involving Suaste, Matua and others that appear to be referencing the robbery, according to charging documents.

Search warrants were executed on Oct. 19 and Matua agreed to be questioned at the Saratoga Springs Police Department, according to charging documents. While there, he admitted to participating in the robbery and identified Suaste as the driver, court records state. Matua said he became involved when Suaste reached out to him over Snapchat and asked if he wanted to make $1,000 by getting an arrow key, the documents state.

Matua also told police that he formulated the robbery plan based on what he’d witnessed in violent movies, the charging documents read. He identified himself as the individual in gray and said he used a Glock 17 that he built himself, the documents continue.

He then identified Lorenzo Saavedra as the person in the black clothing, the charging documents state, and said he picked up both Suaste and Saavedra on the day of the robbery. They drove to Salt Lake City so they’d be far from Matua’s residence, Matua told police. Following the robbery, Matua told officers that he “took a picture and/or video of the keys and sent it to friends on Instagram.” The keys were given to Suaste and he destroyed his gun about two weeks after the robbery, he told police, though he then acquired a new firearm.

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3 men facing federal charges, accused of robbing mailman at gunpoint