Ex-San Jose cop helps nab 3 bank robbers

February 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
In the South Bay, a man who stopped to make a cellphone call realized he was witnessing a bank robbery. This happened just days before his reinstatement as a San Jose police officer, but being a civilian didn't stop him from cracking the case.

San Jose Police say three men -- Jose Luis Lemus, Byran Chavez, and Jonathan Garcia -- robbed a bank on The Alameda Monday and on Tuesday, aggressively hit a Wells Fargo on Santa Teresa Boulevard.

"Based on the style and manner that they entered the bank, I knew it was a takeover robbery, that they would probably be armed, and at the time I had nothing on me," said San Jose police Officer Michael Nasser.

Nasser felt helpless as it all went down. His re-instatement as a San Jose police officer wouldn't be official until Thursday. On Tuesday, he was still a civilian, simply stopping in the bank parking lot to make a phone call.

"My initial thought was I wanted to do something, I wish I had this or I wish I had that. But given the situation that I was in, I had nothing else better to do, but then to be a good witness," said Michael.

He left the department in June after getting pink slipped. But his lack of title Tuesday didn't stop him from reacting. He followed the suspects, as they ran to their getaway car and dialed 911 with their license plate number.

"If Officer Nasser had not been there to give us a license plate and a description of these suspects, there is no telling where we would be in the investigation right now," said San Jose Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Within a few hours, the three were stopped and arrested in Salinas.

All three suspects remain in custody. If they are found guilty, they could each face a minimum of 20 years in prison.