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Press Release

Orange County Man Indicted for Allegedly Robbing Anaheim Bank and Taking Hostages the Day After His Release from State Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury today returned an indictment against an Orange County man who allegedly took three bank employees hostage when he robbed a bank branch in Anaheim last month – the day after being released from state prison.   

Eric Walter Gray, 53, is charged with one count of bank robbery and forced accompaniment. Gray has been in federal custody since June 5 after being transferred from state custody. A federal magistrate judge has ordered him jailed without bond.

Gray’s arraignment is scheduled for June 24 in United States District Court in Santa Ana. 

“One day after his release from prison, this defendant allegedly chose to return to crime by taking three victims hostage while he robbed a bank,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “My office will continue its efforts to prosecute and punish violent recidivist criminals who harm our community.” 

“The victims in this case dealt with fear and death threats while the defendant held them hostage until they were rescued, thanks to the courage of bank employees who notified police,” said Krysti Hawkins, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “This ongoing investigation is the result of a collaborative effort among local and federal law enforcement and prosecutors with the shared goal of holding Mr. Gray accountable for his violent actions.”

According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed in this case, Gray robbed a BMO bank branch in Anaheim on May 8 – the day after being released from San Quentin Rehabilitation Center. While in the bank branch and after loitering there for a long time, Gray allegedly jumped over the teller counter, stated that he had a gun, and demanded money from the teller. Money was taken from the teller drawers and was given to Gray, who proceeded to put the money in his pockets.

Gray then allegedly ordered the bank manager and two bank employees into a storage room inside the bank. Gray eventually let two of those employees out of the storage room but held the bank manager hostage for approximately one hour, according to court documents. During the robbery, at least one bank employee notified law enforcement. Eventually, Gray exited the storage room with the bank manager and was arrested without incident. Law enforcement later found cash and narcotics hidden inside Gray’s body, court papers allege.

Gray was taken to a hospital for a scan and, while there, allegedly repeatedly tried to escape and also fought with police officers, resulting in multiple injuries to the officers involved.

“I am incredibly proud of the professionalism, restraint, and compassion of our Officers as they risked their lives to bring this volatile incident to a safe resolution,” said Anaheim Police Chief Rick P. Armendariz. “This incident is just one example of the exceptional work done every day by the men and women of the Anaheim Police Department to ensure Anaheim is a safe community to live, work, and play.”    

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted, Gray would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office charged Gray in connection with this incident, but dismissed their case so the federal case against him could proceed.

Operation Safe Cities establishes strategic enforcement priorities with an emphasis on prosecuting the most significant drivers of violent crime. Across this region, the most damaging and horrific crimes are committed by a relatively small number of particularly violent individuals. This strategic enforcement approach is expected to increase the number of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of recidivists engaged in the most dangerous conduct. It is designed to improve public safety across the region by targeting crimes involving illicit guns, prohibited persons possessing firearms, or robbery crews that cause havoc and extensive losses to retail establishments.

The FBI and the Anaheim Police Department are investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney Caitlin J. Campbell of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated June 12, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-141