Police Had Been Tipped to Robbery Plan : Heavily Armed Man Arrested Near Bank

Times Staff Writer

Santa Ana police Thursday arrested a 26-year-old Upland man armed with two loaded automatic pistols, two fully automatic assault rifles and four belts of ammunition with 100 rounds each.

Police said the man, identified as Jack Alvarez, had been under surveillance for a possible bank robbery before he was arrested in downtown Santa Ana about 10:45 a.m. They said it was fortunate that Alvarez put up no resistance when his car was stopped on North Main Street.

“I think he was a little bit better armed than we would have been,” said Police Lt. Bob Chavez.


In the man’s car, officers also found 123 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $9,000, Chavez said. Alvarez was arrested on suspicion of possession of illegal firearms and narcotics.

Officers Rush to Bank

Chavez said police were alerted to the man by an anonymous tipster at 10:30 a.m. The tipster told police that a robbery would occur in the next 10 minutes at the Bank of America branch in the 800 block of North Main Street. The tipster told police the suspect was driving a white Mustang GT and was armed with explosives.

Chavez said police rushed to the bank and discovered that, indeed, a white Mustang was parked in the rear with a man seated inside. Officers quietly surrounded the premises and waited for the man to make a move.

However, about 10 minutes later, the Mustang drove away and turned north on Main. That is when police stopped the car and placed the man under arrest.

Chavez said Alvarez had two automatic pistols concealed in his waistband. In his car, police found an M-60 machine gun with four belts of ammunition and an automatic M-16 rifle with two loaded magazines.

The M-60 rifle, used by the military, is illegal for civilian possession, Chavez said. The M-16 rifle is legal only if the owner has a federal permit, which Chavez said Alvarez apparently did not have. And it is illegal to conceal weapons, as Alvarez had done with the handguns, Chavez said.

Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, along with Santa Ana police, were questioning Alvarez on Thursday about the weaponry. He was to be booked into Orange County Jail after questioning, Chavez said.