The man who robbed the Theatre Aspen concession stand at knifepoint Tuesday may be one of a notorious crew of Aspen teens who committed a string of armed robberies and burglaries in the area 20 years ago, police said Thursday.
Yuri Ognacevic, 38, was named as “person of interest” in the concession stand robbery Tuesday and two purse snatchings that occurred in Aspen in the past 10 days, according to an Aspen Police Department news release.
“Officers … investigated Ognacevic after multiple people identified him from photos and video released by the department (Wednesday),” the release states.
Officers searched for Ognacevic on Wednesday and Thursday, but he remained at-large Thursday evening, Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said. Police believe his last known address was in Snowmass Village, he said.
“Additional details will not be made public at this time in an effort to maintain the integrity of the investigation,” according to the news release.
A man wearing a baseball cap, glasses, a flannel shirt, something covering his hands and a bandana over his face flashed a knife — though at least one witness described it as a screwdriver — at three employees of the Theatre Aspen concession stand Tuesday night and made off with $250 in cash, according to police and Theatre Aspen’s director.
Aspen police also believe the robber may be the same bicycle rider who snatched two purses off the back of outdoor restaurant seating areas July 3 and about an hour before the armed robbery Tuesday, then kept riding down the street.
The identification of Ognacevic — described as a white male, 6-feet-2-inches tall, 185 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes — may strike a chord with Aspen residents who lived in town in 1999 and the early 2000s.
Ognacevic was one of 12 local teens — sometimes known as “Aspen’s Dirty Dozen” — eventually implicated in an eight-month-long string of armed robberies and burglaries in Aspen and Snowmass Village in 1999. The crimes included two armed robberies at Stage 3 Theatres, using guns to steal cash from Clark’s Market in Aspen, pistol-whipping a store clerk at a market in Snowmass Village and several burglaries of businesses and private homes, according to media reports.
Many of the teens were well-known members of longtime local families.
Ognacevic was 18 when he pleaded guilty to felony robbery for taking part in the armed robbery at Clark’s Market. He also admitted to being involved in the burglary of a video store and supplying an unloaded .22-caliber rifle for one of the robberies, according to media reports.
Ognacevic served less than a year at a minimum security prison in Canon City, then finished his sentence in a halfway house, according to a 2003 Aspen Times story. At the time he reflected on his recent criminal past and said he wanted to join the military.
“It was a temporary lapse of pro-social thinking,” he told the Times in 2003. “We were doing bad stuff that we thought was just mischief, but it crossed the line and we realized that afterwards.”
Ognacevic’s Linkedin profile identifies him as an EMT and a ski patroller and a Carbondale resident, though that information is likely dated, Linn said.
Anyone with information about Ognacevic’s location can contact APD at 970-920-5400 or text tips to 970-315-2024.