Turlock police say the robber known as the "Band-Aid Bandit" won't be sticking around any longer.
Following a search that included efforts from several law enforcement agencies, 23-year-old Andrew Gonzalez was arrested around 1:50 p.m. by Turlock and Ceres police officers in the area of 22nd and Ash streets in Merced, according Turlock police.
Gonzalez was wanted on suspicion of committing more than 20 robberies in several cities, including Sunnyvale, Modesto, Tracy, Manteca, Turlock and Ceres, according to Rex Osborn, public affairs officer with the Manteca Police Department.
The robber was given the name "Band-Aid Bandit" because he was seen wearing a Band-Aid under one eye during his robberies, Osborn said. Gonzalez is suspected of robbing several businesses at gunpoint since June, including a Fosters Freeze in Modesto on Saturday. "He's gone so long without being caught," said Turlock Police Officer Christina Magana.
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According to Turlock Police Sgt. Steven Williams, police were able to determine Gonzalez's identity from a license plate on the suspect's white Chevy Cavalier convertible. Police said they discovered that the car was registered to Gonzalez, who listed an address in the 2300 block of Edwards Avenue in Merced.
Turlock police reported that Gonzalez's car was seen parked in the driveway of the residence. At the behest of Turlock police, the Merced County Sheriff's Department's SWAT Team served a search warrant on the home around 7 a.m. Thursday. Although officers waited for hours outside the home, they later discovered he wasn't inside, according to Merced County Sheriff's spokesman Tom MacKenzie.
During the early afternoon hours, however, Turlock police said they learned Gonzalez had been hiding inside the nearby home of a neighbor. The neighbor returned home and saw Gonzalez climb out of a window and flee the area on foot, police said.
Merced police responded to the scene to provide backup, Merced police Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said, as Gonzalez ran along some railroad tracks, trying to escape. Gonzalez was eventually spotted hiding in a backyard by Turlock police and arrested, Higdon said.
The shirtless Gonzalez was placed into a police vehicle and taken to Stanislaus County.
Carmen Garza, one of Gonzalez's neighbors, said she was shocked about his alleged crimes. Gonzalez said she knows his mother, describing her as a "wonderful" person. "We never had any problems with that guy," Garza said. "I've never even seen him that often."
Late Thursday, Gonzalez was still being interviewed by Turlock police. He's expected to be booked into Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of committing several armed robberies.
Turlock police are asking anyone with information about Gonzalez or the robberies to call Detective Michael Parmley at (209) 668-5550, ext. 6793.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.