With the alleged Cal Bear Bandit behind bars Monday, authorities planned to meet Tuesday to decide whether he should face state or federal charges related to seven bank robberies in Orange County.

Justin Daniel Hayes, 27, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail in Orange County Jail, according to jail records.

Hayes was arrested Friday after he allegedly robbed a Westminster bank, stole a taxi and led police on a chase that ended in a head-on traffic crash in Santa Ana, authorities said.

Hayes took the cab to the U.S. Bank branch at 15555 Brookhurst St. in Westminster about 3 p.m. Friday, according to FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking. He told the cabbie he wanted a ride to a Kentucky Fried Chicken next door, and when they arrived he said, “I’ll be right back,” according to Gicking.

As the cab driver waited, Hayes allegedly made his way through the fast food restaurant on his way to the bank, Gicking said. The bandit, wearing a baseball cap with a Batman logo, handed a teller a note that read, “This is a robbery. I have a gun and I’m not playing,” and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash, Laura Eimiller of the FBI said.

Some bank employees saw the suspect get in the cab, wrote down its number and called police, Gicking said.

Police caught up with the van near Mile Square Park and pulled the driver over, Gicking said. After the unwitting taxi driver got out, Hayes crawled into the front seat and punched the gas, Gicking said.

The suspect led police on a chase into Santa Ana where the taxi collided with a car at Fairview Street and Edinger Avenue.

Hayes tried to run from the crash scene, but Westminster police quickly apprehended him, according to Sgt. Cameron Knauerhaze.

Three victims from the crash were taken to area hospitals, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Gicking will be among state and federal authorities meeting Tuesday to decide whether Hayes should be charged in state or federal court.

The Cal Bear Bandit’s nickname stems from the robber wearing a cap with a UC Berkeley logo on it during a bank robbery.

The suspect has been linked to seven robberies, starting with a holdup Aug. 20 at a Chase Bank branch at 31972 Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, authorities said.

The same bandit also suspected of a holdup at a Farmers and Merchants branch at 1220 E. Katella Ave. in Orange on Sept. 3, a Bank of America branch in a Vons grocery store at 2701 Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa on Sept. 8, a U.S. Bank branch in Huntington Beach on Oct. 11, a Cathay Bank branch in Orange on Oct. 17, A Chase Bank branch in Costa Mesa Oct. 29, and a Fountain Valley Bank of America branch on Nov. 28.

A day after the Fountain Valley stickup, Hayes was arrested by Irvine police on suspicion of drug possession and drug paraphernalia, according to Farrah Emami of the Irvine Police Department. He was stopped by police who were investigating a theft from a WalMart, Emami said.

Hayes was booked into Orange County Jail, and his car was seized, but he was released on Dec. 2 when prosecutors declined to file charges at that time, according to Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock.

City News Service

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