Modesto police arrested a Turlock man after officers found him carrying a loaded handgun, a box of bullets and a black ski mask in the parking lot of a Tully Road eatery shortly after two armed gunmen robbed the business Sunday night, a department spokesman said.
But police did not arrest Kim Hester, 44, on suspicion of committing the robbery.
Sgt. Craig Gundlach said Hester faces five charges. He was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, having a loaded firearm in public, a concealed firearm, a firearm with altered or removed serial numbers and ammunition.
"We didn't just let the guy go; he has a bunch of charges," Gundlach said. "We want to know why he was out there with a gun and a ski mask."
Based on surveillance footage inside the restaurant, "we are fairly confident (Hester) was not involved in this robbery," Gundlach said.
The robbery occurred about 8:50 p.m. at Jalapeño's Taqueria in the 2000 block of Tully Road, just north of Briggsmore Avenue.
Witnesses told police the robbers, one of them holding a black handgun, walked into the restaurant and demanded money, Gundlach said.
The robbers left the restaurant with money from the registers.
Officers responded to the restaurant and were met by several people pointing to Hester on his motorcycle.
"They must have ran out and saw him trying to leave, and he looked suspicious," Gundlach said.
He said Hester appeared to be having trouble starting his Yamaha V Star motorcycle in the parking lot.
The officers questioned Hester and found him carrying the loaded .38-caliber pistol, a box of .38-caliber bullets and the ski mask. Gundlach said Hester was not wearing the ski mask.
Hester is white, 6 feet tall and weighs 215 pounds, and he was wearing black leather chaps with jeans underneath, a black leather jacket, black gloves and a black helmet, Gundlach said.
Witnesses told police the suspects were two black men in their 20s. One appeared to stand 6 feet tall, weighed about 200 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and red pants.
The other robber was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed about 180 pounds, wearing a hooded sweat shirt and white jeans, according to witnesses.
Witnesses did not report seeing a third accomplice.
"He doesn't match the description: clothes or race," Gundlach said. "Are there any suspicions? Heck yeah."
Modesto police asked anyone with information about this robbery to call CrimeStoppers at 521-4636. Callers to CrimeStoppers can
remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.