GROVER BEACH, Calif. - Grover Beach police arrested a corrections officer with the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday after he allegedly assaulted a Wells Fargo bank employee over indoor mask requirements.
Officers said they responded to reports of a fight in progress at the Wells Fargo bank on Grand Avenue on Friday, Sept. 3, around 5:45 p.m.
There, police determined that an assault and battery had occurred, but the suspect had fled the scene. After a search of the area, the unknown man was not found, however, articles of the man's clothes were collected at the scene for evidence.
Police said the assault victim was a Wells Fargo bank employee who sustained injuries but refused medical treatment.
The employee reportedly told officers that a man had been upset over the requirement to wear a mask while inside the bank as required by the SLO County Public Health Department.
The next day, the reporting officer called the bank employee to get an update on their condition. The employee shared more about their injuries and told the officer additional details about the fight. The employee said the man had made derogatory statements about the employee's ethnicity during the fight.
The officer then updated the report to include charges for a hate crime. This report was forwarded to supervisors at the Detective Bureau for additional investigation due to the complexity of the case.
Police said over the next 10 days, detectives gathered more evidence and interviewed witnesses from the area of the crime that helped them identify the assault suspect as a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Corrections OFficer at the California Men's Colony.
Detectives then obtained an arrest warrant as well as multiple search warrants for the man's home. Those warrants were served on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
The corrections officer was ultimately booked at the San Luis Obispo County Jail on charges for hate crime, criminal threats and battery with serious bodily injury. His bail was set at $50,000.
Grover Beach police would like to remind the public that "hateful speech, violent behavior, racism, bigotry and prejudice of all forms are not acceptable, and they have no place in our society." Over the last five years, the Grover Beach Police Department has responded to more than 109,000 calls for service, three of which were reported hate crimes. Arrests were made in two of those incidents and the third incident was reportedly undetermined due to lack of cooperation by the victim.
The police department said it plans to continue to advance values of human rights, peace, respect and inclusivity in its community.