Watsonville Police Officer Chris Johnson keeps three people at gunpoint Tuesday during a car stop on Harkins Slough Road. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).
WATSONVILLE — Watsonville Police are trying to determine whether a man arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle that ended with a crash on Riverside Drive late Tuesday morning was also involved in the Sept. 17 robbery of a Watsonville bank.
Michael Manning, 19, was arrested approximately 11:20 a.m. Tuesday and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading, participation in a criminal street gang, resisting arrest and a probation violation.
But Manning, who has a large “N” tattooed on his left cheek, also matched a description by a witness given to the Register-Pajaronian from a robbery of the Rabobank on the 1900 block of Main Street Sept. 17.
WPD Lt. Dave McCartney declined to comment further on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.
According to the Watsonville Police Department, an undercover detective was watching the stolen vehicle, a white 1991 Toyota Camry, at the Days Inn hotel on West Beach Street Tuesday morning. The Camry had been reported stolen earlier Tuesday from a residence on Kearney Street.
The detective saw four suspects leave the hotel approximately 11 a.m. Manning got into the stolen Camry, while two males and a female got into a silver 1987 Camry.
The detective alerted patrol officers and followed the vehicles as they turned left on Ohlone Parkway and then right on Harkins Slough Road. When Manning saw the officers waiting at the intersection of Harkins Slough Road and Ohlone Parkway, he fled, driving at speeds reaching 70 miles per hour until he crossed Riverside Drive and crashed into a railing.
The collision caused a WPD patrol car to hit the rear of the Camry, the force of which lifted the Camry off the ground.
Manning was arrested after a brief foot chase.
The occupants of the silver Camry were released without charges after detectives determined the car was not stolen.
Police are still looking for two men who robbed the Rabobank on Sept. 17, one of them wearing a clown mask.
According to police, two male suspects entered the bank pointing handguns and demanded money, then fled the with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a red Toyota Camry, which was captured on surveillance video.
About two hours later, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy located the abandoned Camry on the 100 block of Technology Drive in Watsonville.
A witness who asked not to be identified said she saw the Camry parked on Technology Drive when a dark-colored sedan pulled up close behind it.
Two men then quickly got out of the vehicle. The driver had a large “N” tattooed on his face, and was carrying something, possibly a bag, under his arm.
When she checked the license plate number of the Camry with the one she heard from a police report, the witness said she called police.
Watsonville Police will also look into a rash of Toyota Camrys stolen in the last couple days to determine if there is a connection. The FBI will look at evidence gathered from the bank.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Watsonville Police Department Crime Tip line at 728-3544 or the Watsonville Police Department Investigation Bureau at 768-3352.
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