California Man Allegedly Robs Bank, Takes Hostages Just One Day After Prison Release

California Man Allegedly Robs Bank, Takes Hostages Just One Day After Prison Release
Eric Walter Gray, 53, was released from San Quentin Rehabilitation Center the day before allegedly taking three hostages during a bank robbery in Anaheim, Calif., on May 8, 2024. (Courtesy of Anaheim Police Department)

A man in California has been charged with allegedly robbing a bank and taking multiple bank employees hostage one day after he was released from state prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a statement that Eric Walter Gray, 53, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 12 for allegedly robbing a BMO Bank in Anaheim, California, on May 8—the day after being released from San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.

“One day after his release from prison, this defendant allegedly chose to return to crime by taking three victims hostage while he robbed a bank,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “My office will continue its efforts to prosecute and punish violent recidivist criminals who harm our community.”

Mr. Gray is charged with one count of bank robbery and forced accompaniment, according to the DOJ.

If convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years.

He is being held without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on June 24 at the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

Takeover-Style Robbery

According to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, Mr. Gray was “loitering” at the bank “for a long time” before he allegedly leaped a teller counter, demanding money and telling bank employees he had a gun.

When a bank employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash from the teller drawers, he stuffed it in his pockets and ordered the bank manager and two other employees into a storage room, prosecutors say.

Eventually, Mr. Gray released the two employees but held the bank manager hostage for about an hour, according to court documents.

During this time, at least one bank employee was able to notify law enforcement officials, prosecutors said. Mr. Gray eventually exited the storage room with the bank manager and was taken into custody without incident.

“The victims in this case dealt with fear and death threats while the defendant held them hostage until they were rescued, thanks to the courage of bank employees who notified police,” said Krysti Hawkins, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

“This ongoing investigation is the result of a collaborative effort among local and federal law enforcement and prosecutors with the shared goal of holding Mr. Gray accountable for his violent actions,” she added.

After Mr. Gray’s arrest, police took him to a hospital for a scan, where he allegedly tried to escape and also fought with police officers, resulting in multiple injuries to the officers involved.

In addition, the court papers also allege that authorities found cash and narcotics “hidden inside” the body of Mr. Gray.

“I am incredibly proud of the professionalism, restraint, and compassion of our Officers as they risked their lives to bring this volatile incident to a safe resolution,” said Anaheim Police Chief Rick Armendariz.

“This incident is just one example of the exceptional work done every day by the men and women of the Anaheim Police Department to ensure Anaheim is a safe community to live, work, and play.”

Mr. Gray was initially charged by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in connection with the takeover-style heist. However, the attorney’s office dismissed the case on June 4 so federal authorities could proceed.