Criminal charges won’t be filed at this time against three men arrested on suspicion of robbing a Paso Robles bank last week, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.
Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said the decision to release Edward Ivan Ochoa, 30, Jose Christian Ramirez, 29, and Luis Rios Rico, 21, puts the public in danger.
“We felt very comfortable making the arrest,” Lewis said. “It turns my stomach, it makes me sick to think they’re out of jail right now. There’s information to lead us to believe they’re gang members. They are violent criminals. The fact that they’re out of custody right now makes me sick to my stomach.”
The three men were arrested the night of Nov. 20, shortly after the robbery that evening at Chase Bank on Niblick Road.
Police say several men entered the bank with guns and demanded money. One of the robbers hit a bank employee in the eye with a rifle.
Following the robbery, police say the California Highway Patrol spotted a vehicle matching the description of the robbers’ getaway vehicle speeding northbound on Highway 101 at more than 100 miles per hour. Officers reportedly stopped the vehicle and determined that the three men inside matched the description of the robbers.
“The last thing we wanted as a police department was to see them released any time in the near future,” Lewis said. “It’s our opinion that these are the right people and we’re working hard to get them back into custody soon.”
Lewis said it’s not uncommon for prosecutors to request more evidence in a property crime investigation, but added that it’s unusual and disheartening for such a serious case to be declined when there’s a wealth of evidence.
The DA’s office says the Paso Robles Police Department and the DA Bureau of Investigation are still investigating the case. “There is much evidence that was seized in the initial investigation and followup that needs to be processed,” officials said.
Jail logs showed only Ramirez, who was also booked for violating post release supervision, remained in custody as of Wednesday morning.
Police say their investigation is ongoing and they ask anyone with information about the bank robbery to contact the Paso Robles Police Department at (805) 237-6464 or Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP. Tips to Crime Stoppers can be made anonymously.