Masked man who punched cashier in rob try is arrested


Police arrested Friday night in Susupe the alleged masked man who punched a female cashier at a poker arcade in San Jose in an attempted robbery last March 22.

Michael Jordan Palacios Cabrera, 31, was brought before Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo Monday on charges of attempted robbery, and assault and battery. Govendo imposed a $50,000 cash bail.

Drug Enforcement Task Force officer Jesse Sablan stated in his report that a witness immediately identified Cabrera in a police photo lineup as he has seen the suspect frequently playing poker in another establishment.

The attempted robbery happened at the 888 Poker II near the former Payless ShoeSourre along Chalan Monsignor Road in Oleai in the morning hours of March 22.

A video clip from a surveillance camera allegedly showed Cabrera knocking out the cashier with a single lefthand punch. Cabrera allegedly failed to get any money because he accidentally pushed the door of the cashier’s booth, closing it from the inside. The cashier could not help him open the booth as she was already unconscious after being punched.

Sablan said police officers responded and arrived at 888 Poker II around 6:53am in response to a call. Two callers informed police they were the ones who called for assistance.

One caller informed the officer that the cashier was lying on the floor inside the establishment and that the suspect had fled on foot toward Texas Road.

When the officers entered the establishment, they saw the cashier struggling to stand up. She was holding her head in pain. The officer stopped questioning the cashier as she appeared to be disoriented.

One of two callers informed the officer that when he walked inside 888 Poker to get hot water he saw the suspect standing by the cashier booth’s door.

The suspect told the witness (caller) to get out. The witness replied he was just going to get hot water.

As the witness walked toward the water dispenser, he observed the cashier lying on the floor and moaning in pain.

The witness said the suspect was trying to open the door of the cashier’s booth. The suspect was yelling at the cashier to open the cashier’s door. The witness said he got scared and walked out of the establishment.

The suspect then ran outside the establishment and crossed the street toward Texas Road.

Medical personnel then arrived, treated the cashier, and brought her to the hospital for further treatment.

Sablan said that during their interview with the victim last March 26, she stated that their security guard had already left at that time (6am) and that there was no customer inside. A few minutes later, the suspect, wearing a white hospital mask and a hat, sat down and started playing poker. Several minutes later, the suspect called the cashier to cash out. The cashier took out $150 and walked out of the cashier’s booth. While the cashier inserted the keys into the poker machine to unlock it, the suspect punched her on the left side of her face. The cashier said she could only remember being punched and then blacked out.

Police got the footage of the surveillance camera and released it to the media.

Sablan said that they interviewed one of the the witnesses last March 26, and the witness identified Cabrera in a photo lineup. The witness further stated that when he left the establishment, the suspect followed him. The suspect allegedly removed his mask and threatened the witness that he would kill him.

The witness told police that he does not know the suspect’s name, but that he recognizes him as he has seen him around Smile Poker in Chalan Laulau.

Last Oct. 17, police arrested Cabrera on charges of burglary and theft, assault and battery, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

In May 2018, Cabrera, who was on probation at the time, was arrested for allegedly beating up his girlfriend.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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