A suspected bank robber almost got away Friday morning after a dye pack exploded, knocked him off his bicycle, and caused him to fall face-first into the pavement.
But with the help of witnesses, who followed him from Community Banks of Northern California, 1839 W. 11th Street, Tracy police caught the man at Tracy Boulevard and Beechnut Avenue.
The man, identified as Ronald Travis, 25, of Tracy, reportedly walked into the bank at about 10 a.m., showed a teller a handgun and demanded money. The teller put a packet of red dye in the bag of bills. People in the shopping center said they saw a man with a ski mask and sunglasses ride away on a bicycle.
"He took off pretty fast," said Regina Cordova, receptionist at Beauty and Beyond, at the corner of the retail strip next to Safeway on 11th Street.
She said he headed through the driveway and was about to turn the corner to the driveway behind Safeway when he fell.
"Something went off in his backpack and there was smoke everywhere," she said.
He dropped the money and the pack, took off the ski mask, got back on his bicycle and rode away. Police recovered the money, which was stained with red ink and scattered behind Safeway.
Tracy Police Department Detective Dan Pasquale said people who saw the man ride away helped police find him.
"One witness actually followed him," Pasquale said.
Pasquale said Travis dropped by his house on the 900 block of West Ninth Street and then left. Officers spread out in the neighborhoods south of the shopping center, and officers spotted him nearby at Beechnut Avenue and Tracy Boulevard, where he was arrested.
Police served a search warrant on Travis’ Ninth Street house Friday afternoon. Pasquale did not say what police looked for or what they found, but he noted that there was nothing to indicate Travis was a suspect in other local robberies.