Ex-Army chaplain arrested for crime spree in California

An ex-Army chaplain has been apprehended after being implicated in a series of criminal incidents including an armed carjacking, a fictitious emergency call, and a bank robbery in Fresno and Madera counties, California.

On Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement agencies were alerted to an armed carjacking in Madera around 12:51 p.m. The victim, an AT&T employee, recounted to deputies that he was confronted in a business complex parking lot.

A struggle ensued where the victim was able to disarm the suspect of an airsoft pistol, but was subsequently incapacitated with pepper spray. The suspect absconded with the van, prompting an alert to local agencies.

Within minutes, the Fresno Police Department received a 911 call warning of an armed individual on the premises of Bullard High School. Officers eventually concluded that the call was a hoax.

By 1:16 p.m., officers were investigating an armed robbery at Central Valley Community Bank. The suspect, arriving in the stolen AT&T van, demanded cash from the bank, alleging he was armed. Fearing for their safety, the bank staff complied, and the suspect made his escape in the van.

By 1:30 p.m., law enforcement located the van, abandoned less than two miles from the bank. The suspect fled the scene, but later on he was apprehended with the assistance of air support.

Police identified the suspect as 42-year-old Marcus Banksbey of Sacramento, who was subsequently detained at the Fresno County Jail.

Investigations linked the hoax call to Banksbey’s phone. Authorities believe the call was an attempt to divert law enforcement resources while the suspect was en route to the bank.

Banksbey, who was never present on the high school campus, is expected to face additional charges of felony carjacking with injury pertaining to the incident in Madera.

According to an Army spokesperson, Banksbey served in the California Army National Guard from 2000 to 2019, with his final position being a command/unit chaplain. He also served a deployment in Jordan from November 2017 to April 2018.

A former colleague, Jason Young, expressed his disbelief at Banksbey’s arrest, finding it hard to reconcile his former comrade’s actions with the man he knew during their deployment.