Woman arrested after robbing Burney gas station, slashing employee

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 11, 8:30 p.m., With additional details from witnesses.

BURNEY –A local woman was arrested after she allegedly committed an armed robbery and injured an employee at a Burney gas station and convenience store earlier this afternoon, Tuesday, June 11. According to official radio traffic and multiple witnesses, the robbery happened at USA Gas, at 37303 HWY 299E/Main St.  

According to witnesses, when employee Ralph Freitas – who happens to be the small mountain town’s honorary mayor – followed the alleged suspect outside and tried to stop her from stealing alcohol from the business, she pulled out a knife and slashed him, cutting his hand in the process.

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Deputies assigned to Burney Mountain Sub-Station were dispatched to the gas station at 3:50 p.m., after receiving reports of an armed robbery that had just happened at the business.  

SHASCOM emergency dispatchers advised deputies that the business’ management had called 911 and reported an Indian female adult – known to employees from prior contacts as “Bonnie” – had slashed one of the business’ clerks with a knife after the employee caught her stealing alcohol and tried to stop her.  

Deputies arrived in the area within two minutes of the dispatched call and immediately began searching for the alleged suspect, while gathering additional information and details about the theft and robbery.

Deputies subsequently interviewed the injured employee and multiple witnesses at the scene, including more than a half-dozen teenage girls who were at the business and mere feet away when the robbery and knife attack happened. The girls managed to take numerous photos of the incident and those photos, along with surveillance footage from the convenience store, were later provided to investigating deputies.

Witnesses told deputies that after slashing the station employee, the alleged suspect fled the area on foot with the stolen alcohol. The knife-wielding woman was last seen walking eastbound on Mountain View Rd., heading toward the high school.

A few minutes later as deputies were continuing to search the area, other witnesses reported seeing the alleged suspect walking back westbound on 299E, toward Safeway.  

Deputies continued searching the area, stopping and questioning several people about the woman’s whereabouts. At 4:49 p.m., just one minute shy of an hour after the robbery was initially reported, a deputy spotted the alleged suspect walking through the Safeway parking lot and immediately detained the woman. She was later positively identified as Bonnie Montgomery.  

Based on their investigation, deputies arrested Montgomery before transporting her first to the Burney Sub Station and then to Shasta County Jail in Redding. It was not immediately known if Montgomery faced any charges in addition to the armed robbery allegation.  

A parent of one of the teenage witnesses, who requested both she and her daughter remain anonymous, later told SCNS that her daughter was with a group of about eight teens at the gas station’s small convenience store when they realized something was happening involving Freitas, who in addition to being Burney’s honorary mayor is employed at the gas station.

“The girls saw Ralph was in distress,” the mother explained. “They saw it had something to do with the woman and started to walk over and see what was happening, but then they realized the lady was armed with a knife.”

“When Ralph tried to stop her by the pumps, she slashed him with her knife,” described the mom.

“Luckily, Ralph wasn’t badly injured. It could have been much worse ,” the angry mom continued. “He could have been seriously injured or my daughter or one of her friends could have been stabbed…all over two beers.”

The employee slashed during today’s armed robbery suffered a minor knife-wound to his hand but was otherwise uninjured during the incident, according to witnesses and other store employees. He was provided first aid at the scene for a cut to his thumb, but did not require further medical treatment.

The sheriff’s investigation is ongoing and anyone who witnessed this incident and has not yet provided a statement to authorities is encouraged to contact deputies at (530) 245-6070.  


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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