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Off-duty Manteca cop finds robbery suspect
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Patrol officers Mike Espinosa and Richard Smigelski advance on the suspect vehicle expecting to find two other men hiding inside as detective Steve Harris detains one suspect of a weekend armed robbery at the back of a patrol car. - photo by GLENN KAHL

An off-duty Manteca police officer returning from Stockton on Highway 99 at French Camp Road recognized a 1982 Chevy Caprice as it cut him off as the suspect vehicle in a Saturday afternoon armed robbery in Manteca.

Using his cell phone the officer called his dispatcher and continued to follow the southbound vehicle that took the Yosemite Avenue off ramp, went west on Yosemite and then north on Northwoods.

It was at that point that officer Mike Espinosa caught up with the off-duty patrolman as the suspect vehicle turned west into McNary Circle. The time was about 3:15 p.m. – the daily shift change – when double the number of officers are often on the street.

Officers Espinosa, Richard Smigelski and Sgt. Jody Estarzeau conducted a felony high risk stop of the vehicle in the 1300 block of McNary Circle. Devon Lee Hardy, 30, of Stockton was ordered out of his car with his hands raised and was talked back toward the officers’ position.

Detective Steve Harris was also on the scene and cuffed the suspect taking him into custody as more officers arrived at the intersection.

Hardy is a suspect in an armed robbery that occurred shortly after 2 p.m. in the same general vicinity of McNary Circle when three black men in their mid-20s allegedly robbed several subjects at gun point, officers said.

Police said the suspects apparently offered low-cost auto body work on Craig’s List giving the McNary Circle address.  When the victims arrived at that location Saturday they were chased off at gun point looking back to see the three suspects rummage through their vehicle, police said.

Hardy – a parolee – was alone in the vehicle when officers stopped him Monday afternoon.   He was first placed on a parole hold by officers who also charged him with armed robbery, police said.

In addition to the armed robbery charge he was also cited for driving on a suspended license.  Bail would have been $51,075 except for the “no bail” parole hold violation.  His court date was set for Oct. 22, at 1:30 p.m. in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.