It was a bank robbery designed to underwrite the purchase of a used car with the owner of the vehicle waiting in the parking lot for the $2,200 in cash to seal the deal.
The retired 83-year-old iron worker had no idea that the petite 51-year-old self-proclaimed gypsy he drove to the bank at 2:30 p.m. Friday was inside robbing a teller of the money she would soon give him for the purchase price of his 1994 Chrysler Fifth Avenue with only 64,000 miles on the odometer.
It had belonged to his late mother when she died at the age of 94 in 2002.
Six Manteca Police units swarmed into the curbing behind the vehicle as it pulled into man’s driveway in the 1200 block of Trailwood Avenue less than 10 minutes after the robbery had occurred. Officers made a high risk traffic stop, with guns drawn, not knowing if the robber was actually armed during or after the crime.
Police ordered the male driver out of the car as he held his arms stretched out the partially opened door. He was handcuffed and taken back behind the marked units while the suspect Gail Renee Castle was ordered again to put her hands above her head.
Instead, she reportedly jumped over and into the driver’s seat and locked the door, placing the car in reverse. Officer Steve Beermann was next to her door ordering her out of the Chrysler as she attempted to flee, according to officers. He broke the driver’s side window, and when she resisted officers, she was shot with a taser leaving a barb imbedded in her left breast.
Undercover police cars drove three different sets of witnesses by the home as investigators had the woman stand near the curb to be identified by those who had been in the bank during the crime
Members of the DELTARAT auto theft task force, the Street Crimes Unit and patrol officers were all out looking for the car and the robbery suspect. Sgt. Mike Sexon said they located the vehicle on Louise Avenue driving westbound toward Trailwood Avenue where they made the traffic stop as the vehicle pulled into the driveway of the man’s home.
Castle, originally from Bakersfield, was charged with bank robbery, elder abuse and resisting arrest, police said.
The woman said of the cash she took from the bank, “It was given to me as a gift for being sober for 60 days.” She added in a roadside interview that she had requested of a Bulletin reporter that she had just been released from the San Joaquin County Jail on Thursday. She claimed that police as well as the jail staff have mistreated her in the numerous times she has been arrested without any evidence of wrong doing.
“I have been picked up three times since the weekend by the Manteca PD,” she stressed. One was for having $3,500 of merchandise in a shopping cart at Kmart when the store refused her check, she added.
She recalled that her note slid across the counter to the bank teller stated, “This is a robbery. Give me your money. I don’t want anybody to get hurt.” She said she told the woman behind the counter that she needed the money to get medical attention in Stockton.
As she stood between the car she had hoped to purchase and a police car, she told officers that she was having pain in both shoulders saying, “I’m either having a heart attack or a panic attack.” A short time later she was taken to Doctors Hospital’s emergency room to have the barb removed from her breast tissue.
“I’m a gypsy and I can read your mind by looking into your eyes,” she was heard to tell one officer in front of the Trailwood Avenue home.
The retired ironwork had been cleared of any wrong doing long before the officers cleared the scene and he had gone inside of his home to talk with his wife.
As police were leaving his home, he came out into his front yard to tell his recollection of the scenario with the woman who had continually been pestering him to buy his car for the last month.
He said she told him at about 1:30 p.m. Friday that she had found a source for the funds to make the deal on the car. She didn’t haggle on price but said she wanted to call her daughter to take her to the bank. In the meantime she asked the owner of the vehicle to give her ride to her ex-husband’s home several blocks away so he could look it over.
When she learned her daughter was not available, she asked the retiree to drive her to the bank where she would get the money. He noted that she was only in the bank for a relatively short amount of time before they drove out of the parking lot.
Wanted to get pills at Walgreens
“I’m all squared away. Stop at Walgreens. I need to pick up some pills,” he quoted her as saying. The owner of the car noted that she got out of the vehicle and then changed her mind and said she would get the pills later. “Let’s go to your place,” he said she told him.
They turned around on Louise Avenue and headed back toward Trailwood Avenue and his residence. Almost simultaneously, as he turned his left turn signal on, sirens blared behind him.
“Before I got stopped about six officers got out of their vehicles with guns drawn,” he said. Officers barked, “Get out of the vehicle and get your hands up.”
The woman told him not to open the door saying she had a gun. He recalled he had left the keys in the ignition making it possible for the woman to restart the car and put it into reverse. As for her having a gun, it was either her or the six officers outside the vehicle, not knowing who to fear the most.
Officers quickly determined that the car owner had nothing to do with the robbery. Community officer Barbara Hall later gave him an envelope with his registration and insurance papers that he said had been found in the woman’s purse.
Retired as a union iron worker, the man said he had played a key role in the building of seven coal plants in Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana. He had also worked on numerous San Francisco buildings hanging structural and reinforcing steel. One of his most recent accomplishments over the years was putting Unit One on line for PG&E at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.