In a busy day for Lamorinda law enforcement, Lafayette police tracked and eventually arrested an Antioch man who allegedly robbed the Mechanics Bank at 3640 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Thursday, finding him sitting in a parked car and taking him into custody after he reportedly reached for what turned out to be a pellet gun.
Police arrested Joseph Velasco, 34, and said the Antioch man has prior arrests for robbery and may be connected to the robbery of the Verizon store, 612 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill, which was robbed earlier in the day.
The Lafayette incident began at 12:37 p.m. when a caller tipped police that the bank had been robbed, provided a description of the suspect, and a direction of travel for the suspect who fled on foot.
The caller told police the suspect had a gun and had disappeared from view in the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s across the street from the bank. Officers from throughout Lamorinda responded to the area to assist in locating the suspect, who had fled with money from the bank.
They were eventually directed to a car that had been located in the area of Boyer Circle (approximately 1 mile from the bank). Officers responded to the area and located an individual sitting in a vehicle parked on the street at 12:46 p.m.
Police said the man matched the physical description of the robbery suspect, but appeared to be wearing different clothing than those described by witnesses. Officers made contact with the subject, asking him to step from his vehicle and, as they did this, the subject began to reach for an unknown object in his waistband.
Investigators said officers struggled with the man, who continued to try to pull something from his waistband. During the struggle, the individual was able to remove a handgun from his waistband. The suspect was taken into custody and it was later determined the handgun was actually a pellet gun.
A search located the cash, the note that been shown, and the clothing Velasco had worn during the robbery. He was arrested and transported to the police department. The employees of the bank later recounted that the suspect had come into the bank inquiring about opening an account. Once helped by an employee, the suspect produced a note demanding cash. The suspect accompanied the employee to the cash drawers, where he grabbed cash and then fled the business. None of the bank employees were physically injured during the robbery.
Velasco was later transported to the jail and booked for robbery and several other charges. Several local law enforcement agencies have already contacted our investigators believing this suspect may be responsible for additional robberies in their jurisdictions.
Police say Velasco is believed to have driven down Mountain View Drive to the location where he was contacted by officers (Boyer Circle). Residents who have any information about this incident, the suspect, or his vehicle, are asked to contact investigators through their tip line at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our investigators at (925) 283-3680.