This time, however, members of the community bravely stepped in to help thwart the robbers’ efforts long enough for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s to make an arrest in the case.
The assailants in Thursday afternoon’s robbery were described as being two African American males, one standing at 5’10”, the other described at 6’3”, both wearing masks, and both brandishing a pair of fire arms.
Patterson Senior Center employee Myrna Rosas was cashing a check at the bank located inside of the Save Mart store when the two men came in screaming at employees, pointing their pistols at people, ordering people to get down on the ground and demanding money from bank employees. One assailant was witnessed jumping the counter of the bank, dropping a bank computer and telephone in the process.
“My legs started shaking. I was crying, fearing for my life. I never expected this,” Rosas said immediately following the incident, adding that the robbery lasted only four minutes.
Another person in the store was witnessed as passing out from the harrowing scene.
“Everyone’s kind of shook up right now,” a Save Mart assistant manager, who wished not to have his name printed, said while members of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s department were interviewing witnesses.
According to the assistant manager, a Good Samaritan who was witnessing the incident pulled the ignition key out of the robbers’ get away vehicle while it was parked just outside of the entrance to Save Mart and the Wells Fargo.
When the assailants returned to the vehicle, which was a stolen green Honda Accord, they were witnessed looking at each other from inside the vehicle, baffled that their plans to drive away had been thwarted.
The two masked gunmen were then witnessed fleeing the scene on foot and into the Heartland Ranch housing development directly to the west of the shopping center with employees of the Save Mart store allegedly reported as chasing behind them.
“The community is the one that got them good,” the assistant manager later said.
The confusion added to the robbers’ plan gave enough time for members of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s department to cordon off the Heartland Ranch neighborhood, eventually arresting one suspect on the 1,000 block of Marsh Wren.
Jose Valadez, 33, was arrested for felony robbery, felony theft or extortion involving a motor vehicle, felony second degree burglary, felony possession of a short barreled rifle, and misdemeanor conspiracy to commit a crime.
Roadways surrounding the neighborhood were blocked by patrol cruisers, including CHP, as well as a few City of Patterson vehicles.
A Stanislaus County Sheriff’s helicopter was also called in to help with the search.
Residents within the area were told to stay inside of their homes for over an hour while the search was conducted.
“This is normally a really nice neighborhood,” Bullfinch resident Lindy Brandon Silva said while the Sheriff’s helicopter circled over head. “ But there were cops in my backyard, on the street, poking their heads over fences.”
Aside from putting one suspect into custody, the search by the Sheriff’s also recovered the stolen cash, a pair of weapons, and clothing that had been either stashed, or dropped, next to a home along the 1,000 block of Pipit Drive, according to Patterson Police Chief Tori Hughes.
As of Friday morning, no new leads or arrests in the case had come about, according to Sheriff’s Sergeant Paul Yotsuya.
Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 or email@example.com.