A standout football player in California’s Central Valley is accused of a string of armed robberies.
Modesto (Calif.) Christian senior Davion Gates, 18, was arrested early Sunday by police in his hometown of Ceres. He has been charged with three counts of robbery and two of attempted robbery, Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Greg Yotsuya said in a news release obtained by the Modesto Bee.
As the Bee reports, officers were dispatched to a Ceres QuikStop market early last Sunday morning when a clerk reported that someone had tried to get through the locked front door. The store was locked because the clerk was on break.
“When he got to the front door, no one was there,” Yotsuya said. “The clerk felt this was suspicious, as customers usually wait for him to come to the door to unlock it.”
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Surveillance video showed a black male adult wearing a dark, hooded jacket with white stripes down the sleeves and gray pants trying to get into the store. Unsuccessful, he walked away.
The clerk told police a male wearing the same clothing but also a white mask tried to enter the store the night before around the same time and found the door locked, then left.
“Officers decided to stay in the area to see if the suspect would return,” Yotsuya said. “Just under an hour later, a male matching the physical and clothing description from earlier was observed walking towards the front of the store.”
When officers pulled into the parking lot, Gates saw them and ran. After a short foot pursuit, he was captured. He had dropped a handgun as he ran, which was recovered.
“We love Davion — we are stunned by the news,” Modesto Christian superintendent and principal Jonathan Burton told the Bee. “We’re completely surprised, because this is not at all in line with the character he has shown here at school. We are still trying to make sense of it.”
Gates has played running back and defensive back for the Modesto Christian football team and made The Bee’s 2017 All-Stanislaus District Team for small-school defense.
According to MaxPreps, Gates accounted for 1,550 total yards and 14 touchdowns while making 47 tackles and seven interceptions on defense in 2017.
After his QuikStop arrest, “investigators have since linked Gates to several other armed robberies of convenience stores throughout Ceres,” Yotsuya said, per the Bee. “… Investigators are working diligently to see if he was involved in other robberies in the area.”
Per the Bee, the Stanislaus County Superior Court case index shows a pretrial hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.