Residents robbed at knifepoint in central Columbia

Saturday, September 8, 2007 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 5:47 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

COLUMBIA — A man armed with a large knife robbed two male residents in their home and stole a car from the garage before being arrested, Columbia police said Friday.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. Friday, the suspect, whom police identified as John E. Amaty,44, went into a house on the 400 block of North Tenth Street, said Columbia police Sgt. Lloyd Simons. Simons said Amaty is homeless.

Simons said the suspect cut the first resident he encountered superficially on the arm with a knife. The suspect then tied up the first victim’s roommate, stole several items from the home and left in a car parked in the garage, Simons said.

Both victims called police, who found the car within minutes at Wilkes Boulevard and Washington Avenue, with the suspect inside, Simons said.

He tried to escape officers, but lost control of the vehicle and struck a house near the intersection, Simons said. No one in the house was hurt, and he ran away. Police caught the suspect at Park Avenue and Fifth Street, where he was taken into custody after a brief fight.

Amaty refused to provide police with identification, and police used an FBI fingerprint database to identify him, Simons said.

Amaty was arrested on suspicion of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, armed criminal action and felonious restraint.

One of the victims, who did not want to be identified because he said he feared for his safety, had just gone to bed when the lights went on in his hallway, he said during a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

The 24-year-old said he walked out of his room to see his 26-year-old roommate’s arm bloodied and the intruder holding a knife. The intruder then tied up the man’s arms and leg on his bed with an alarm clock cord while holding the knife to his back.

“My roommate was very good about keeping the guy calm,” the victim said. “We just did what he wanted and told him where everything he wanted was.”

He said that two female roommates living in the basement of the house slept through the robbery, and another roommate was not home.

After tying up the victim, the intruder went through the upper two floors of the home, stealing money and electronic equipment before leaving, the victim said.

Amaty pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and theft in April 2006 and was sentenced to five years in prison, according tocourt records. That sentence was suspended, and he was given a sentence of five years of supervised probation. Amaty’s probation was suspended Aug. 10, according tocourt records. Amaty also pleaded guilty to passing bad checks in June 2006, according to

He was being held at the Boone County Jail in lieu of $80,000 bond Friday evening.

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