Romance novel cover model wanted in Connecticut robberies is arrested in San Diego

A romance novel cover model was arrested this week in San Diego following a cross-country dragnet sparked by a series of robberies, authorities said.

David E. Byers, 34, of Solana Beach, Calif., had been on the run for about a week from police in at least four states, authorities said. The manhunt finally came to an end Tuesday, when he was arrested in the North Park area of San Diego by the FBI and San Diego County sheriff’s deputies, according to the Greenwich Police Department in Connecticut.

“There was never anything that would have indicated that he would do this,” said Los Angeles photographer Michael Stokes, who has worked with the model.

Byers has appeared, usually partially dressed, on the covers of four romance novels, Stokes said. Byers’ tattooed, chiseled physique was also displayed on the cover of Stokes’ book, “Exhibition.”

Stokes said Byers was best known for his “edgy, hard, bad-boy” look.

Byers is suspected of robbing a Chase Bank branch twice, as well as a gas station, in Connecticut last week, police said.

The robberies occurred in a 48-hour span and triggered an intensive search.

On Friday, authorities in Connecticut searched neighborhoods and went door-to-door looking for Byers. Officers spotted him, and Byers led them on a vehicle pursuit, police said. Eventually, he bailed out of his car and ran across a highway, triggering a wide search involving four other police agencies, authorities said.

Police did not find Byers, but they found a stolen Range Rover with a pit bull inside, according to an arrest warrant filed in Connecticut Superior Court. Authorities discovered that the license plate on the vehicle was also stolen.

Byers was then spotted in Pennsylvania, where he was chased by police and evaded capture again, authorities said.

Police later learned that Byers had been staying at a hotel in Connecticut during the robbery spree, according to the arrest warrant. Witnesses recalled seeing the Range Rover and talking to him.

One witness told authorities Byers said he was from California, “but liked the Greenwich area because he had made $18,000 in the past three days,” according to the warrant.

Byers’ girlfriend told authorities that he had emailed her a photograph showing stacks of cash.

He was off the radar for two days, until Monday, when police in Yuma, Ariz., said Byers had been seen walking near a Holiday Inn there.

Greenwich police said they received information that Byers had fled to San Diego, so they worked with authorities there to locate him.

On Wednesday, San Diego SWAT officers spotted Byers when he pulled into the parking lot of a liquor store at Upas and 30th streets. They discharged a flash-bang grenade to distract Byers and took him into custody, KNSD-TV in San Diego reported.

FBI Special Agent Davene Butler said Byers also had a warrant for burglary in San Diego County.

Stokes said he has known Byers since 2013, when the model contacted him looking for work. Stokes said he received a text message from Byers on Tuesday saying that he was moving to New York to live with his girlfriend.

“I think his issue is that he’s a pleaser,” Stokes said. “He always wants to please certain people, and that derails him.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA

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UPDATES:

4 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from an arrest warrant filed in Connecticut Superior Court.

This article was originally published at 1:55 p.m.

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