SANTA MARIA — Two men who’d never met before were arrested in connection with an armed bank robbery Saturday morning at Wells Fargo, 407 E. Main St.
Police say one man performed the robbery and another played “Finders Keepers” with the money after the suspect dropped it while trying to make his getaway. Police don’t believe the two worked as a team.
Arthur McClay Watkins, 55, of Arroyo Grande, allegedly left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to a press release issued by the Santa Maria Police Department. He only got as far as a parking lot diagonally across the street, said Lt. Kim Graham. He then aimed a handgun at a pursuing police officer and dropped the money. Police promptly gained control of Watkins and took him into custody. They arrested him and charged him with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer.
Meanwhile, as the Watkins foot chase unfolded, a passerby, Jose Villa Mendez, 19, of Santa Maria, came across the money and decided to keep it. Thanks to a keen witness, he was only able to keep it for a few hours.
“A witness provided information that led to the identity of Mendez,” said Graham. Detectives traced his location to outside the city limits. They then contacted him and he came back to Santa Maria. Police arrested Mendez at 8:30 p.m. and booked him into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of grand theft and possession of stolen property.
UPDATE – On Sunday February 2 Arthur Watkins died in an accident on Highway 1. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/02/03/2906625/bank-robbery-motor-home-over-cliff.html
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