Suspect in Foothills bank robbery arrested
The man who allegedly jumped over the counter at a Foothills bank while brandishing a weapon as he stole money from the teller's cash drawer didn't make it far Saturday before being apprehended by several area law enforcement agencies.
According to the criminal complaint filed against him by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jon Phillip Carstens, 47, of Phoenix, has been charged with armed robbery and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime for attempting to rob the Wells Fargo Bank at 11411 S. Fortuna Road. He is currently in custody at the Imperial County jail.
The complaint states that at about 11:30 that morning, Carstens allegedly entered the bank carrying a semi-automatic pistol and walked up to one of the tellers, saying something to the effect of “Hands up, buddy.”
He then, according to the complaint, jumped over the counter to the teller's side, where he opened the cash drawer and began removing all the bills from it, taking $5,300. After emptying the cash drawer, he jumped back over the counter and ran out of the bank.
After Carstens reportedly left the building, the teller, who also observed him head south in the parking lot, knelt down and activated his alarm.
Once outside the bank, Carstens was observed by a witness who was in the passenger seat of a car parked two spaces just south of the bank getting into a sporty, mid-2000 model maroon Honda Civic with four doors.
The witness told investigators that he saw a man who appeared to be pulling something over his face as he was walking toward the bank and tried to call 911, but the call failed. He was eventually able to get through and report the robbery.
The same witness also told investigators that the robber came out of the bank about a minute later with money and some type of gun in his hands. He said the robber looked at him and uttered an expletive before getting into his car — pulling out of the parking lot and turning west at the stoplight onto 35th Place.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer and a Yuma Sector Border Patrol agent were together in an unmarked Yuma County Sheriff's Office pickup when they heard the alert about the robbery over the radio providing a description of the suspect and the getaway vehicle.
According to the complaint, the DPS officer and Border Patrol agent spotted the vehicle a short time later near 32nd Street and Araby Road. The vehicle pulled into the gas pumps at the Circle K there and stopped, but the driver did not get out.
The officer and agent pulled in behind the car, according to the complaint, and attempted a felony stop with their guns drawn. Instead of complying with their orders, the driver drove off at a high rate of speed. The officers tried to follow the car but could not keep up with it.
Yuma police next spotted the red Civic and began pursuing it on Interstate 8 before it eventually turned northbound on the 4th Avenue Bridge and headed into Winterhaven. At that point, a deputy from the Imperial County Sheriff's Office joined in the pursuit.
YPD and ICSO, however, lost the car several miles down road somewhere in the vicinity of Araz Road. By that time, the DPS and Border Patrol agent who first spotted the vehicle — now joined by two deputies from the Yuma County Sheriff's Office — arrived in Winterhaven, where they spotted a man matching the description of the driver at the Circle K across from Araz Road carrying a light blue bag.
After the suspect was taken into custody, the red Honda was found parked in a wash under an overpass about 50 yards away. Inside the blue bag was a passport identifying the suspect as Carstens and $5,300 in cash, which was the same amount stolen from the bank.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.