San Luis Obispo, Calif. (AP) — A California prison guard was arrested this week on suspicion of racially abuse after beating a Wells Fargo branch manager and asking him to wear a mask inside the bank, police said.
James Allen Jones, Jr., 50, was arrested on the job at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday following a 10-day investigation into the September 3 attack. Police said Jones, who is white, made racist remarks to the Hispanic victim.
It is not known whether Jones has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. A call to a phone number listed for them went unanswered.
Bank manager Told the San Luis Obispo Tribune That a customer got upset when he asked the man to put on a mask in accordance with local health orders, called it racist slurs and created a ruckus in the lobby.
Later that evening, the manager said the man showed up in a parking lot in the central California city of Grover Beach and fought with him. The man fled before the police arrived.
It is one of many examples of violence or threats by workers trying to enforce COVID-19 restrictions in businesses, schools and elsewhere.
Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters said investigators identified Jones as the suspect after interviewing witnesses and collecting surveillance video and photographs of him. They obtained warrants to search his home and property and arrested him on the job on suspicion of committing a hate crime, making criminal intimidation and battery with grievous bodily injury.
“Hate speech, violent behavior, racism, bigotry and prejudice of all forms are not acceptable, and have no place in our society,” Peters said in a news release. “The City of Grover Beach is committed to promoting a collaborative, safe and culturally diverse environment for its residents, workers, business owners and tourists.”
Peters said police would present their case and ask San Luis Obispo County prosecutors to file charges next week. Jones was released from custody after posting $50,000 bail.
A Vicky Waters spokesperson said Jones, a 27-year-old employee, is on administrative leave for the outcome of her case, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is cooperating with the investigation. She would not specify whether she is on paid or unpaid time off.
“The details of this incident are reprehensible, and the CDCR does not tolerate this type of behavior on or off duty,” Waters said. “It does not represent our department, nor the standards and expectations of our employees.”