Police nab suspected bank
Left, An attempted escape by bank
robbery suspect Frank Manuel Hernandez Jr. resulted in a
demolished fence and overturned children's toys in the
backyard of a home on Venturacci
By MARLENE GARCIA
Fallon police on Friday captured the man suspected of
trying to rob the Fallon Wells Fargo Bank inside Safeway two weeks
ago. The suspect was arrested after a brief chase in an alley behind
the 200 block of Venturacci Lane, just yards from the bank.
Frank Manuel Hernandez Jr., a 31-year-old transient, is also
a suspect in robberies in Wells, Nev. and three other states.
At the time of his arrest, he was driving a Ford Expedition
that police say was stolen in Rexburg, Idaho on Tuesday.
citizen who read a description of the stolen vehicle in Friday's
Lahontan Valley News alerted police to the dark green SUV with paper
dealer plates in the alley at about 7:20 p.m. The suspect also has
tattoos of eyeballs on the back of his shaved head, a distinctive
identifying mark described by Fallon witnesses when the local bank
As a Fallon police officer came toward the vehicle
from the south side of the alley, Hernandez allegedly tried to back
out to the north. He crashed through a wooden fence into a backyard
before fleeing on foot.
Marianne Woller, who was on foot, got close enough to Hernandez to
recognize him as the suspect seen on bank surveillance video, said
Police Chief Russ Brooks.
Woller and officer Ron Wenger
chased Hernandez as he jumped onto a rooftop in an attempt to
escape. At one point, Wenger ripped off part of a wooden fence
surrounding a residence to gain access into backyards.
suspect leaped to a neighboring roof before he fell to the ground
between two duplexes.
By this time, Woller and Wenger were
joined by officer John Fisher.
"The car was still moving and
kept moving as he went over the roof," Woller said shortly after
Hernandez was taken into custody. "He started running between the
two duplexes and we got him right there."
being sought as a suspect in the attempted bank robbery here on June
5. The suspect left the bank without any cash after handing the
teller a note.
Authorities in Bishop, Calif. believe he
robbed a Union Bank there June 1, and he is suspected of robbing a
Wells Fargo Bank in Vancouver, Wash., May 26. In addition, his
description matches a person who robbed a U.S. Bank in Mill City,
Ore., May 19 and a First Federal Bank in Newburg, Ore., May
On June 10, a Flying J truck
stop in Wells was robbed. Assistant Police Chief Ray Dolan said the
suspect also matches a description of Hernandez. A gun was used in
that crime. Dolan said a semi-automatic handgun found in the stolen
Ford is the same type used in the Wells robbery.
In all of
those robberies, witnesses described tattoos on the suspect. In
Oregon, the man who robbed two banks had a Chinese tattoo on the
right side of his neck and a person's name off-set from the base of
his neck, according to an Oregon television station's Web site.
In Washington, the tattoo was described as a tribal tattoo
on the suspect's neck.
According to Churchill County Jail
records, Hernandez has tattoos of Chinese symbols by his right ear,
the numbers "333" on his left ear, "In loving memory of Vanessa
Ortiz" on his neck and numerous other tattoos on his stomach and
arms, along with the eyeballs on the back of his head.
faces multiple charges in multiple states," Chief Brooks said.
Residents in the area of the foot pursuit assisted police by
giving them information on Hernandez's direction.
lives on North Bailey Street. His back yard faces the alley where
the suspect was first spotted.
were inside and heard a bang as he destroyed the trash cans," Omo
said Friday night. "The old boy jumped on a roof then jumped to the
other roof. He made it, too. We were yelling at the cops to tell
them where he was. It was pretty exciting."
Wernette, who lives in a residence in the 200 block of Venturacci,
said she heard "a big bang and then sirens" but didn't see
"I stepped outside because I thought it was an accident
and got hollered at by the cops to get back inside," she said. "I
just got back inside. He had jumped my fence and went through my
Hernandez is charged with attempted bank
robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of
methamphetamine, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm,
failure to stop for police, hit and run, a warrant charging
violating parole and a Modesto, Calif., warrant. Bail on the
attempted bank robbery allegation alone was set at $500,000 cash.
Another $230,000 bail was set for various other charges, but
Hernandez is being held without bail on the alleged parole
He refused a request Saturday for an interview.
Fallon police don't know why Hernandez returned to Fallon.
His last known location was in Idaho on Tuesday when he reportedly
used a stolen California driver's license at a car dealership.
Rexburg Police Department Capt. Randy Lewis said the suspect
asked to test drive the Ford Expedition, leaving a copy of the
driver's license. He didn't immediately return. The suspect parked a
Ford Explorer reported stolen in California when he arrived at the
dealership, Lewis said, and was with a woman.
"They returned sometime later without (dealership
employees) knowing it and picked up the Explorer," Lewis said.
"There's a lot of similarities between this character and the guy in
Local authorities said the same California
identification was used at Sierra Jewelry and Loan to pawn jewelry
the day before the attempted bank robbery here. That link was also
established by a surveillance photo, said Dolan.
was alone when he was captured, and police do not know the woman's
identity or her whereabouts.
Fallon police plan to search
the Ford Expedition today after obtaining a search warrant. The gun
was immediately removed as a safety factor, Dolan said.
"This was a community effort when we had people running
across rooftops," he said. "I'm extremely pleased he was arrested
here in Fallon."