Bank Robbery Suspect Nabbed

Teen Escaped From Facility In December

Posted: April 10, 2014

HARRISONBURG — A Harrisonburg teen accused of robbing a bank last summer and later escaping from a detention center in December was captured Monday, according to the Harrisonburg Police Department.

Details of his arrest, including where he was captured, have not been made public, although the HPD’s Lt. Chris Rush said Rosel Guillen-Mendez was apprehended in the United States. Police had been concerned that the 17-year-old had successfully made it across the Mexican border.

“We are working with the locality. ... We’ll go through the normal extradition process,” said Rush, the department’s lead investigator.

Rush said authorities are not disclosing Guillen-Mendez’s location, or when he will be brought back to Harrisonburg, because of security reasons. He said the defendant already has proven to be a safety and escape risk.

The FBI charged Guillen-Mendez on Jan. 16 with knowingly and intentionally traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to avoid prosecution. The criminal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, was sealed by court order until Tuesday.

Guillen-Mendez, 16 at the time of the robbery, is charged as an adult in the July 1 holdup at the BB&T branch at 1900 S. High St. in Harrisonburg.

He is charged with felony robbery, felony use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, felony entering a bank to commit larceny and felony wearing a mask in public.

Police say Guillen-Mendez entered the bank, displayed a handgun and demanded money before fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday shed new light on what took place inside the bank.

“The subject ordered the bank employees to lay on the ground and to count to 10 before he would ‘blast’ them,” the complaint states.

Guillen-Mendez was arrested July 3 after SWAT teams raided a residence in a mobile home park just southwest of the city and about a mile from the bank. Police say he confessed to the robbery.

The federal complaint also links Guillen-Mendez to the April 5, 2013, robbery of the Bank of America at 70 University Blvd.

“During that robbery, a male subject entered the bank and pointed a handgun at employees and patrons,” the complaint states. “The subject ordered employees to give him cash, and told the employees that they had 30 seconds to comply. The subject began to count down from 30 and fled on foot.”

Guillen-Mendez has not been charged in that robbery.

The teen escaped from the Commonwealth Center for Children & Adolescents in Staunton on Dec. 29. He was being held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center in Verona but had been transferred to the Staunton facility, which specializes in mental health treatment.

He had been on the lam since and has been accused of committing a series of crimes in Virginia and Alabama while on the run.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or

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