Laguna Beach police arrested a suspect minutes after a bank robbery Thursday, while Fountain Valley police were closing in on two suspects believed responsible for seven bank holdups.
Police said the two suspects arrested in Fountain Valley 10 minutes after the Laguna Beach arrests are brothers and residents of Fountain Valley suspected in seven Orange County and Long Beach bank robberies. The Laguna Beach suspect, identified as Arthur Christian Fristad, a 39-year-old convicted bank robber, was spotted in the bar of the Hotel Laguna about 20 minutes after a First Interstate Bank branch two blocks away had been robbed by a bandit toting a toy gun. Police said the robber escaped from the bank in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue with $814 at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Police said Fristad, who has been in and out of federal prisons for the last 17 1/2 years on bank robbery convictions, had just been paroled again on June 30.
Uniformed officers summoned to the bank by a silent police alarm were given a detailed description of the robber and told the direction in which he had fled, Lt. Bill Cavenaugh said.
A description was broadcast, and two detectives followed a hunch that a fleeing robber might seek refuge in a dark watering hole.
Cavenaugh said the officers came upon a man matching descriptions of the robber in the bar of the beachfront hotel, then followed the man, later identified as Fristad, out onto the sand.
Fristad tried to resist arrest but was subdued without any injuries, Cavenaugh said, and a "realistic look-alike toy pistol and the stolen money" were recovered. A bank employee later identified Fristad as the man who robbed the branch.
Fifteen hours earlier, at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, a man who brandished what a clerk believed to be a toy pistol tried unsuccessfully to rob a Baskin & Robbins ice cream shop in Laguna Beach, police said. But the clerk, apparently not taking the toy seriously, "walked away into the back room" of the shop, leaving the man empty-handed, Cavenaugh said. Police believe the man in the ice cream shop was Fristad.
After the bank holdup in Laguna Beach, the brothers suspected in Orange County and Long Beach robberies commited since Jan. 1 were apprehended by Fountain Valley police in that city.
John Kelvin Demott, 25, and his brother, Chris George Demott, 27, both of Fountain Valley, were arrested on federal warrants charging each of them with bank robbery stemming from the holdup of the Constitutional Federal Savings and Loan, 13850 Golden West St., in Westminster. FBI spokesman Fred Reagan said the brothers are under investigation in six other robbery cases.
Police said that, in each of the robberies, the suspects pulled handguns and herded customers and employees into bank vaults before fleeing with money.
Investigators received information that the men had been seen in Fountain Valley, police said, declining to elaborate.
Officers said Fountain Valley police investigators Mike Becker and Mike Major noticed the "suspects' vehicle," described as a blue Nissan pickup truck, in an industrial complex at Slater Avenue and Mt. Herrmann Street. The detectives stopped the truck as it was about to leave a parking lot and arrested the Demotts, who did not resist.
The brothers were being questioned at the Fountain Valley Police Station late Thursday and were expected to be booked into the Orange County Jail.