‘Hypnotist Bandit’ suspect held after robbery at FBI’s Ventura building


Investigators believe they have arrested the “Hypnotist Bandit,” so named because he gazes into people’s eyes, after he allegedly robbed a bank inside a building that houses the FBI’s Ventura office.

Manuel Jose Hernandez, 28, of Los Angeles had eluded authorities for weeks after allegedly robbing four banks in Los Angeles County, authorities said.

But on Monday, the suspect unwittingly went to authorities, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.


He reportedly entered a Chase bank in the 2000 block of South Victoria Avenue in Ventura, the same building that houses the county’s FBI offices on the second floor.

Hernandez approached a teller and passed her a note reading, “This is a robbery. Lets make this quick and eazy give me 35.000 dollars in large bill. No bait MONEY. Keep Your Hands Where I CAN SEE THEM,” according to a U.S. District Court criminal complaint.

She handed him roughly $1,700 in cash and activated the silent alarm, which immediately put FBI agents and local police on notice.

Agents spotted the suspect, who was holding the black nylon bag, running from the bank, so they gave chase, authorities said.

They chased him for nearly half a mile until they finally caught up with him and arrested him, Eimiller said.

He told authorities he needed money and “that at least he didn’t use any force during the robbery,” according to the criminal complaint.


After reviewing surveillance photographs and information regarding other robberies, investigators said they believe Hernandez is responsible for four other bank robberies in Pasadena, Temple City, South El Monte and, mostly recently, Manhattan Beach.

In all four robberies, the bandit made off with roughly $16,300, according to the criminal complaint.

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