INDIO, Calif. - - The man Indio Police say was captured after a robbery attempt, chase, and extensive search on Wednesday is well-known to law enforcement.
Homero Palomino Ontiveros has been charged with attempted murder and attempted robbery for his alleged involvement in a shooting and would-be heist of an armored vehicle at the Wells Fargo bank in Indio.
Officials in Tulare County say Ontiveros and others are implicated in 14 armed robberies over the course of 15 months. More than $250,000 is alleged to have been stolen in those crimes.
"Each robbery was the same,'' according to a statement released by the Tulare sheriff. Three to four armed suspects ``entered the business wearing masks and gloves. In an organized, methodical and well-planned manner, they tactically cleared the store with assault rifles and pistols out, scanning for
any patrons or owners.''
Money was taken from the businesses, as well as personal property from bystanders. The suspects never physically assaulted their victims, who numbered 19 in Tulare County alone, where Ontiveros and others are accused in a dozen armed robberies, according to the Tulare County sheriff.
At least six of Ontiveros' alleged accomplices in that spree were arrested in 2017.
Ontiveros also has an outstanding arrest warrant for robbery and conspiracy out of Dodge County, Nebraska, where he's accused of taking part in an armed robbery in Fremont and the attempted burglary and theft of an ATM machine elsewhere in the county.
Ontiveros pled not guilty in an Indio courtroom on Friday to the charges from this week's crimes and is being held without bail pending another hearing on February 14.
A motion has been filed by the prosecution to raise the bail to $5 million. The potential bail increase will be considered at a Feb. 14 hearing. Prosecutors raised concerns that any bail money posted could be paid with stolen money, considering the alleged out-of-area crimes.
Indio Police also released new details on the incident. An officer patrolling near the intersection of Highway 111 and Monroe heard rapid gunfire at approximately 11:50 on Feb. 7 and called for backup. He proceeded to search the area and came to the Wells Fargo/Dollar Tree parking lot on the 46000 block of Monroe St. in Indio, where he found an armed Brinks security guard.
The security guard said a man in a ski mask attempted to rob the guard while he was putting cash in the Wells Fargo ATM. The guard and the suspect briefly exchanged fire. The suspect then fled the scene in a green SUV. No one was hurt during the shooting.
Indio police then received numerous calls into their dispatch about two suspects exiting a green SUV, entering a red Cadillac, and then leaving the area. The red Cadillac was spotted and law enforcement attempted to stop the vehicle, but it did not yield when officers activated their emergency lights. A brief car pursuit ensued and ended after the red Cadillac collided with a block wall behind the Food 4 less near Highway 111 in Coachella.
The two suspects then fled to the nearby Coachella Mobile Home Park. Cesar Chavez Elementary, which sits next to the mobile home park, was shut down by authorities shortly after the Food 4 Less crash. There is no evidence that the suspects went on school property at any point.
Law enforcement then set up a perimeter around the mobile home park and began to sweep the area. The Indio police dispatch received a call from a mobile home park resident detailing the specific location of the suspects under one of the homes.
The area surrounding the specific home was secured and the suspects were located with the help of a Riverside County Sheriff's K-9 unit.
Ontiveros was then arrested by police. His accomplice, who is yet to be identified, was pronounced dead at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
While in custody, Ontiveros was found to be in possession of a ski mask. A search warrant was also issued for the mobile home property where they were found. Police found a backpack containing several sets of gloves, a chrome .357 revolver with a filed-off serial number, and an additional ski mask.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15