A 45-minute manhunt ended Friday morning when a pair of binoculars helped law enforcement officers spot a suspect hiding behind a rock on a hill in San Luis Obispo.
The subsequent arrest ended a nearly two-week investigation that started Feb. 6 after a man was robbed at gunpoint in downtown San Luis Obispo.
On Friday morning police arrested 31-year-old Jason Michael Atkins of Los Osos after he had run up a hill behind a local motel. He was booked at County Jail on suspicion of robbery.
Two days earlier, police arrested Robert Joseph Pelz, 31, who was also identified as a suspect in the robbery, after the SWAT team served a search warrant in the 800 block of Calle Del Caminos.
Police believe that Pelz was the driver and Atkins the passenger in a white Mercedes during the Feb. 6 armed robbery near Marsh and Nipomo streets, in which they allegedly pointed a shotgun at a man and demanded money, said San Luis Obispo Police Lt. Bill Proll.
The man handed the suspects an undisclosed amount of cash, and they drove away in the Mercedes.
Proll said police had received information that Atkins may have been staying at the Vagabond Inn, located in the 200 block of Madonna Road near the Madonna Inn. Officers met there Friday morning, and Atkins fled when he saw them, running up the mountain behind the hotel.
Police cordoned off the area and other officers responded, including CHP officers, a CHP K-9 unit, a district attorney’s investigator, county Narcotics Task Force members and San Luis Obispo police detectives — about 16 to 18 people, Proll said.
Using binoculars, officers spotted Atkins about three-quarters of the way up the mountain hiding behind a rock. He was arrested without incident.
The break in the armed robbery case came Monday, when officers responded to a report that gunshots were heard in the area of Calle Del Caminos and Broad Street.
Two men in that incident were arrested: Steven Christopher McGraw, 28, of San Luis Obispo, on suspicion of an assault with a deadly weapon; and Ricky Taylor, 31, of Santa Maria, on a parole hold. Taylor has pending charges of attempted murder, police said.
Proll said police believe Taylor fired a round from a shotgun at McGraw. In addition, an unidentified victim suffered injuries from a baseball bat. He was taken to French Hospital Medical Center, treated and later released.
At that time, detectives were able to learn the identity of the robbery suspects, based on interviews and similar vehicle descriptions, Proll said.
“I know for a fact that the mention of a shotgun at Calle Del Caminos rang some bells here with the robbery at Nipomo and Marsh streets,” he said.
One more unusual twist: On Feb. 12, Atkins was pulled over while driving in the 100 block of Pomeroy Avenue in Pismo Beach, according to that police department’s daily log. The Mercedes he was driving, listed as either a green or gray color, was towed, and Atkins was given a notice telling him his license was suspended.
At that time, San Luis Obispo police had not identified him, and a warrant had not been issued for his arrest.
Proll said police believe they’ve recovered the shotgun from the robbery but not the shotgun used in the incident Monday. Police also have towed the white Mercedes involved in the robbery.