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Bay City man arrested and charged with violent robbery

RED WING - A Bay City man could face a 20-year prison sentence if convicted of committing a violent robbery New Year's Eve inside a Red Wing apartment complex.

Earl Watson, 22, threatened a woman with a knife after she found him burglarizing her Cooperidge apartment, 701 E. Seventh St., on Dec. 31, according to Red Wing police.

Watson fled with several items, while the woman was left frightened but physically unharmed, according to a criminal complaint.

A Pierce County sheriff's deputy found and arrested Watson in the early morning hours New Year's Day. Inside the van Watson was driving were a Blackberry phone, a utility knife, a cutlery knife, drug paraphernalia and prescription drugs belonging to the victim, the complaint states.

He is also alleged to have stolen the victim's wallet, which contained $10.

Watson faces charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, second-degree assault, third-degree burglary and fifth-degree assault.

Violent burglaries like the one Watson is accused of are not the norm in Red Wing, said Craig Lunde, Red Wing police sergeant of investigations.

"That is not common," Lunde said of the crime. "That is a rarity,"

According the criminal complaint:

The victim was visiting a friend in a nearby apartment. At 10 p.m. the friend heard suspicious noises in the hallway.

As the victim and her friend approached her apartment, the assailant came out and attempted to grab them. He shoved the victim into a corner in the hallway. He then swore at her, threatened to kill her and stole her cell phone, she told police.

The man was wearing a white scarf, or something like a scarf, around his face and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, she said. The friend, meanwhile, ran back to her apartment and called the police.

After they spoke with the victim, police interviewed Watson's younger brother, 14, who was at the apartment complex.

According to the complaint the brother said Watson asked him to babysit. He and a friend agreed and Watson picked them up at 5:45 p.m. in a van.

Then the boys watched Watson play scratch-off lottery games for three hours at two gas stations. The boys became annoyed. He then told the boys he was going to go into Cooperidge to get money from an acquaintance.

When he came out, Watson admitted to the boys he had committed a robbery, the complaint states. The boys said they did not want to be involved in the crime, so they got out of the van and stayed at the apartment complex.

Police stopped Watson shortly thereafter but let him go because they did not yet have a description of the perpetrator.

Watson called his wife using the victim's cell phone and said he was hiding in a shed and had planned to ditch the van, the complaint states.

Pierce County authorities, however, found Watson at 5 a.m. the next day inside the van.

Watson is set to appear in court Jan 28.