SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) – A California prison guard was arrested this week on suspicion of beating a Wells Fargo branch manager and calling him a racial insult after being asked to wear a mask inside the bank, police said.
James Allen Jones, Jr., 50, was arrested Tuesday at his job at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo following a 10-day investigation into the September 3 attack. Police said Jones, who is white, made racist comments to the Hispanic victim.
It is not known if Jones has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. A call to a phone number listed for him went unanswered.
The bank manager told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that a customer got angry when he asked the man to put on a mask, as required by local health ordinances, called him an insult racist and caused a commotion in the lobby.
Later that evening, the manager said the man showed up at the parking lot in the central town of Grover Beach in California and got into a fight with him. The man fled before the police arrived.
This is one of many cases of violence or threats that have been reported nationwide by workers trying to enforce COVID-19 restrictions in businesses, schools and elsewhere.
Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters said investigators identified Jones as the suspect after interviewing witnesses and collecting surveillance footage and photos of him. They obtained warrants to search his home and property and arrested him at work on suspicion of committing a hate crime, uttering criminal threats and grievous bodily harm.
“Hate speech, violent behavior, racism, bigotry and prejudice in all its forms are not acceptable, and they have no place in our society,” Peters said in a statement. “The Town of Grover Beach is committed to fostering a collaborative, safe and culturally diverse environment for its residents, workers, business owners and tourists.
Peters said police will present his case and ask San Luis Obispo County prosecutors to press charges next week. Jones was released after posting $ 50,000 bail.
Jones, a 27-year-old employee, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of his case, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is cooperating with the investigation, spokeswoman Vicky Waters said. It would not specify whether he is on paid or unpaid leave.
“The details of this incident are deplorable and the CDCR does not condone this type of behavior on or off duty,” Waters said. “This does not represent our department, nor the standards and expectations we have of our staff. “
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