By the Daily Post staff
A witness helped police arrest three suspects in the armed robbery of the Arco station at Middlefield and San Antonio roads in Palo Alto, police said.
At 8:40 p.m. Sunday, police got a call about a robbery at the station a few minutes earlier. A man pointed a handgun at the cashier and got an undisclosed amount of money. The robber ran out of the store and jumped into a car with two other people inside.
A witness went into the store just after the robbery, was told what happened and quickly went outside to try and spot the fleeing suspects, police said.
The witness saw a vehicle leaving the gas station matching the victim’s description and called 9-1-1. She followed the suspect vehicle while providing updates to police dispatchers of its location.
“The actions of the witness helped responding officers locate the vehicle,” police said a statement.
Police stopped the suspect’s vehicle on Alma Street near Palo Alto Avenue and arrested three people without incident.
Police said they found the stolen cash in the vehicle along with drugs and drug paraphernalia in one of the suspect’s bags. Officers said they also found an unsecured loaded handgun that was reported stolen out of Salinas on the rear floorboard of the vehicle.
The stolen gun was within reach of an elementary school-aged child, who was found sitting in the rear seat along with a passenger who was a teenage juvenile. With the cooperation of the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children Services, the child was released to relatives and the teenager was taken to a youth shelter.
Arrested and booked into jail were:
• Jesus Benitozavala, 28, of Salinas
• Yesenia Flores Lopez, 26, of Salinas
• Jose Solis, 19, of Los Banos
All three face charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit a crime, and child endangerment.
Benitozavala, who was one of the getaway drivers, and Solis, the gunman, also face an additional charge of possession of a stolen firearm (felony).
Lopez also acted as a getaway driver and switched places with Benitozavala when they were fleeing from the gas station. Lopez faces additional charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanors).