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California man allegedly robbed bank, took hostages day after release from state prison: DOJ

A California man was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday after allegedly taking three people hostage while robbing a bank last month, the Department of Justice announced.

Eric Walter Gray, 53, is facing one count of bank robbery and forced accompaniment after allegedly robbing the BMO bank branch in Anaheim, California, on May 8 – which was one day after he was released from state custody at the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.

Gray, who had been loitering at the bank for “a long time,” allegedly jumped over the teller counter, stated he had a gun and demanded money, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed in the case.

He was given an undisclosed amount of money from the teller drawers, which he then put in his pockets, the DOJ said.


After taking the money, Gray allegedly ordered the bank manager and two bank employees into a storage room inside the bank, according to the DOJ. The two employees were ultimately let out of the room, but the manager was held hostage for about an hour.

At least one bank employee was able to contact law enforcement during the robbery and Gray was eventually arrested without incident after exiting the storage room with the bank manager, Anaheim police said at the time.

“One day after his release from prison, this defendant allegedly chose to return to crime by taking three victims hostage while he robbed a bank,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said. “My office will continue its efforts to prosecute and punish violent recidivist criminals who harm our community.”


BMO Bank location in Anaheim, California

Gray was taken to the hospital for a scan, where he allegedly tried to escape multiple times. He is also accused of fighting with police officers there, which resulted in multiple injuries to the officers involved, according to the DOJ.

Court papers alleged that law enforcement also found cash and narcotics “hidden inside Gray’s body,” the DOJ said in its news release.

“The victims in this case dealt with fear and death threats while the defendant held them hostage until they were rescued, thanks to the courage of bank employees who notified police,” said Krysti Hawkins, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Hawkins also said Gray will be held “accountable for his violent actions.”

Anaheim police arrest man at bank

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Gray in connection with the bank robbery, but dropped them so the federal case against him could move forward.

Gray, who is in jail without bond, will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on June 24. If convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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