PALO ALTO, CA – Police arrested three suspects responsible for an armed robbery on Sunday night. An alert witness helped lead officers to the suspects’ location.
On Sunday, March 29, 2020, at around 8:40 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a report of an armed robbery at the Arco Gas Station located at 699 San Antonio Road. The preliminary investigation revealed that a male suspect entered the store, pointed a handgun at the cashier and demanded money. Out of fear for his life, the employee, a male in his forties, opened the register and the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of money that was inside the register. The suspect then ran out of the store with the stolen money and fled in a vehicle with other suspects from the gas station. The victim was uninjured.
A witness who entered the store just after the robbery took place learned what had just occurred from the victim and quickly exited to try and spot the suspects fleeing. The witness saw a vehicle leaving the gas station matching the suspect’s description and called 9-1-1. She followed the suspect vehicle while providing updates to public safety dispatchers of its location. The actions of the witness helped responding officers locate the vehicle. Police stopped the suspect vehicle on Alma Street near Palo Alto Avenue and arrested three adult suspects without incident. Police located the stolen cash in the vehicle along with drugs and drug paraphernalia in one of the suspect’s bags. Officers also found an unsecured loaded handgun that was reported stolen out of Salinas on the rear floorboard of the vehicle. The stolen firearm was within reach of an elementary school-aged child who was found sitting in the rear seat along with a passenger who was a teenage juvenile. With the cooperation of the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children Services, the child was released to relatives and the teenager was taken to a youth shelter.
Police believe the armed robbery was a crime of opportunity. They booked 28-year old Jesus Benitozavala, 26-year-old Yesenia Flores Lopez, both of Salinas, and 19-year-old Jose Solis of Los Banos into the Santa Clara County Main Jail. All three face charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit a crime, and child endangerment. Benitozavala who was one of the getaway drivers, and Solis, the gunman, also face an additional charge of possession of a stolen firearm (felony). Lopez also acted as a getaway driver and switched places with Benitozavala when they were fleeing from the gas station. Lopez faces additional charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanors). All three of the suspects’ booking photos are attached to this news release.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.