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Insurance business robbed at gunpoint

Posted: Thursday, Feb 27th, 2014

Fernando Placido, Rigoberto Castillo

WATSONVILLE — Two Salinas men were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of robbing a Watsonville insurance business at gunpoint.

At 12.55 p.m. Watsonville Police were dispatched to Freeway Insurance, 1441 Main St., for the report of an armed robbery that had just occurred. Officers learned that a Hispanic male wielding a handgun had entered the business and ordered two employees and a customer to get on the ground, said detective Charles Bailey.

The suspect then ordered one of the employees to open the safe and was able to flee the business with an undisclosed amount cash.

Witnesses at the scene reported that the suspect got into a light colored Jeep and fled the area onto Main Street with at least one other male aboard. Officers were unable to locate the suspect vehicle and the information was provided to Law Enforcement Agencies in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Surveillance video from a nearby business confirmed that the suspect vehicle was a Jeep Cherokee and the license plate was obtained.

At approximately 1:48 p.m. deputies from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office spotted the Jeep parked in a shopping center in Prunedale and immediately notified WPD. The deputies searched the shopping center for the suspects and eventually contacted two men in a restaurant.

During their investigation, one of the men fled the restaurant, but was located a short distance away in a public library. The men were detained.

WPD investigators responded to Prunedale to take over the investigation.

WPD investigators and Monterey deputies were able to determine that Fernando Martinez Placido, 26, and Rigoberto Guerra Castillo, 25, both of Salinas, were associated with the Jeep Cherokee.

Inside the restaurant, WPD investigators found the keys to the vehicle and the handgun used in the commission of the robbery. Both suspects were in possession of cash consistent with the total taken during the robbery.

A witness to the robbery was brought to Prunedale and positively identified Placido as the suspect who entered Freeway Insurance and made off with the money.

Placido and Castillo were both arrested for the robbery and later transported to Santa Cruz County Jail.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call the Watsonville Police Department Crime Tip line at 728-3544 or the Watsonville Police Department Investigation Bureau at 768-3350.

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