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Cops thwart bank takeover
Trio caught advancing on Chase branch with loaded guns
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Detective Zach Faye and patrolman Armen Avakian advance on a car holding two gunmen in the 200 block of North Maple Avenue Wednesday morning who police say admitted to a plan to rob the Chase Bank on Center Street. The 17-year-old getaway driver lies face down in the street. Detective Steve Harris, at left, covers his fellow officers. - photo by GLENN KAHL
A bank takeover robbery planned just the night before at a party after the alleged participants complained they were all broke was derailed in a dramatic confrontation in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of downtown Manteca.

The suspects tried to divert police resources by placing a fake 9-1-1 report of a shooting on the east side of Manteca

Three would-be bank robbers were tripped up by a caller to South County Crime Stoppers Wednesday morning as they were putting on their masks and latex gloves just north of the Chase Bank branch at the corner of Center and Maple streets.

The trio was spotted sitting in their white, 1991 Pontiac Grand Am in the 200 block of North Maple Avenue at about 11:15 a.m. with walkie-talkie hand-held radios and two .38 caliber revolvers.

Manteca Police patrolman Armen Avakian was the first officer to roll up on the scene.  He said he couldn’t see through the car’s rear window and he wasn’t sure it was the right car at first.  
The caller had continued to monitor the activities of the men inside the vehicle, however, telling the police dispatcher what he was seeing and noting exactly where the patrolman was in relation to the suspects’ car.

As the men apparently noticed a police unit behind their car they pulled down their masks, took off their gloves and attempted to hide the two fully loaded revolvers – one in a bag and the other under a seat.

Officer Grant Flory was the second unit on the scene, pulling his automatic rifle out of his unit, moving toward the car to back up his partner.

Additional police units – uniformed officers and detectives -  pulled into Maple Avenue  with officers advancing on the car with their  weapons drawn as they carried out a felony stop on the trio.  The suspects were ordered out of the four door sedan,  one-by-one,  placed face down on the ground and handcuffed.

Detective sergeant Anthony Souza said, “If the call hadn’t been made by the citizen, I guarantee it would have been an armed takeover of the bank.”

Arrested were Gabriel Salazar, 24, Richard J. Miranda, 21, and a 17-year-old teen – all of Manteca.  The two men were taken to San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp and the teen was taken to juvenile hall.

They were charged with attempted armed robbery,  felony conspiracy, and being in possession of a firearm while involved in a serious felony, police said.  Salazar was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Souza said the three had been at the teen’s home on Locust Street Tuesday night where they were sharing a few beers and complaining they were all broke.  

Wednesday morning they drove to the 1300 block of East Yosemite where they made a phone call to police from a pay phone near the closed Big Boy Market.  The caller told the dispatcher that he was going to kill his wife who lived on Northwoods Avenue which runs to the east of the market.

Officers theorized the men were attempting to divert police attention to the east side of town so they could be free to enter the bank in the central part of Manteca without fear of being caught.

Souza said all three admitted to separate detectives of their involvement in the plot.  The  two walkie-talkie radios were to be used to keep in contact with their getaway driver during the bank robbery.