Medical pot seller says phone call saved him from armed thugs

SEATTLE -- A South Park businessman who was the victim of a violent armed robbery Tuesday morning is crediting a phone call for saving his life.

Jason Semer had every reason to believe the early morning robbery was going to end horribly. Gun toting thieves tied him up with duct tape, held a gun to his head and said they were going to kill him.

What the robbers didn't know was that police were already on their way.

"They came in with their guns and told me to get on the ground and duct taped my face and arms behind by back and and sat on top of me with a gun at my back while the rest of them went to town on the school," Semer said.

Semer owns a medical marijuana business.

"What were they looking for cannabis and money," he said.

Semer said he grows cannabis to donate to cancer patients and runs a school to teach those patients the ins and outs of growing their own pot.

"(I feel) a little bit violated, a little bit angry," he said. "We help cancer patients. We don't look to get robbed."

Semer happened to be on the phone when he noticed the bad guys on his surveillance camera. He watched them jump his chain link fence, which is lined with barbed wire, and told his friend he was about to get robbed.

Just as those words left his mouth, the robbers kicked down his door.

"It was kind of like the movie 'Taken.' When they said you're about to be taken, here's what I want you to do. So I put the phone under my leg and the whole time they were binding me and taping me, that person could actually hear what was going on," he said.

His friend called 911, and a Seattle SWAT team was quickly at the building. Semer said two of the robbers got curious about the commotion outside and walked right into the arms of waiting police. A third robber remained holed up inside.

After a 4-hour standoff, the SWAT team made its move and found the man hidden in the ceiling of a closet.

Semer said he found two loaded guns -- a .22 and a 9mm -- hidden in his marijuana plants, and it made him realize how lucky he is to be alive.

"Most certainly the person on the phone saved my life," he said.

The robbers were able to cut down about a dozen pot plants before police arrived, but Semer said they weren't mature and even if the roobers got away with them they wouldn't have gotten them high.