A former Army chaplain was arrested in connection with a California crime spree that involved an armed carjacking, hoax 911 call and bank robbery, authorities said.
The string of incidents occurred Tuesday afternoon in Fresno and Madera counties, authorities said.
Deputies responded to a report of an armed carjacking in Madera around 12:51 p.m. local time, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said. The victim told deputies he was in his AT&T work van in a business complex parking lot when the suspect approached.
When the victim got out of the van to “confront” the suspect, he “wrestled away” an airsoft pistol and disarmed the suspect, but was then pepper-sprayed, the sheriff’s office said. The suspect fled the scene in the van, according to the sheriff’s office, which said it issued an alert to local agencies about the stolen vehicle.
Around 12:56 p.m., Fresno police officers responded to a 911 call reporting a man with a gun walking onto the Bullard High School campus, the police department said. Officers cleared the school but “quickly determined that was a hoax call,” Fresno Officer Chris Clark told ABC Fresno affiliate KFSN.
About 20 minutes later, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery at Central Valley Community Bank by a man who arrived in an AT&T van, Fresno police said.
“The suspect went into the bank and demanded money and said he was armed,” Clark told KFSN. “In fear of the suspect being armed, the money was handed over and the suspect did take the money and leave the location.”
The suspect then fled in the AT&T van, which was located by police around 1:30 p.m. in Fresno less than two miles from the bank, authorities said. The suspect fled the scene on foot but was ultimately located with the assistance of air support and taken into custody, police said.
The suspect, identified by police as 42-year-old Marcus Banksbey of Sacramento, was booked into the Fresno County Jail on charges including robbery, receiving stolen property, use of a firearm to commit a felony and false report of an emergency.
Police said they traced the 911 call reporting an armed person at the high school to Banksbey’s phone, and that they believe it was made while en route to the bank as a diversion.
“Officers located evidence connecting Banksbey to all three incidents including calling in the hoax call of an armed subject at Bullard High School,” Fresno police said. “Banksbey was never on campus and evidence suggests that it was a diversion call as the suspect was on his way to commit the bank robbery.”
Banksbey will face additional charges of felony carjacking with injury for the incident in Madera, authorities said.
ABC News has reached out to Banksbey for comment.
According to a U.S. Army spokesperson, he served in the California Army National Guard as an information systems operator/analyst from 2000 to 2012 and as a command/unit chaplain from 2012 to 2019 and held the rank of captain at the end of service. He deployed to Jordan from November 2017 to April 2018, the spokesperson said.
Jason Young told KFSN he served with the suspect in Jordan and expressed shock at the arrest.
“For someone like this to … act out in this just unnatural manner, I can’t imagine,” Young told the station.