Diego Rubio, 18, a 2019 graduate of Pierce High School, is headed this week for the U.S. Army.
Although the Arbuckle teen was released from testifying at the now-vacated trial of accused bank robber Michael Gene Jones Jr., Rubio still had his day in court on April 15.
Rubio is the lone witness to the July 5 armed robbery of the Arbuckle Umpqua Bank, outside bank employees, and officials say his quick actions are what prevented the robbers from making a clean get-away.
Because the Colusa County District Attorney’s office dismissed and then immediately refiled the same charges against Jones and his alleged partner-in-crime, John Williams III, the process allowed Rubio to give his testimony at Jones’ second preliminary hearing instead of his trial.
Jones and Williams are charged with second-degree robbery and special allegations involving the use of a firearm, among other charges.
Jones has pleaded not guilty. Williams has yet to appear in court in Colusa County on the charges, due to his current incarceration at San Quentin.
Rubio, who worked at Alsco-Geyer Ace Hardware last summer, testified before Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson that he was at the Umpqua ATM that afternoon to deposit his paycheck, when he turned toward the scuffling sound of running feet.
Rubio said he saw two masked men, dressed “head to toe” in black, run inside the bank with guns in their hands.
“It was something out of a movie,” Rubio said.
Rubio said he got a better look at the second man to pass him, describing him as stockier than the first, who was tall and slender, and the only one of the two to speak directly to him.
“He told me to get the F*** out of here,” said Rubio, struggling somewhat under questioning to describe the unique accent features of African-American vernacular English, but managed the downward inflection as he attempted to mimic it.
Rubio also testified that once the two men were inside the bank, he heard one man say “this is a bank robbery – put your hands where I can see them.”
“That is when I knew to run,” Rubio said.
Instead of getting inside his vehicle and driving away, Rubio said for safety and expedience, he ran on foot down the street, alerting passerby to stay away from the bank because of the robbery in process. He also said he witnessed the two men exit the bank and get into a tan Toyota pickup and speed away.
As Rubio ran toward the Post Office, he said he went into the street and, coincidently, ran into Arbuckle Fire Chief Casey Cox, who, after being alerted by Rubio of the situation, immediately began pursuing the vehicle.
At Jones’ initial preliminary hearing last November, investigators testified that Cox called the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, and that a deputy took over the pursuit of the vehicle.
Investigators believe Jones, who reportedly made off with $2,300 from the bank, was the driver of the pickup, later discovered stolen from the Sacramento Airport.
He is accused of leading a deputy on a chase into Yolo County, stopping to let Williams out of the vehicle before he continued driving.
Jones reportedly abandoned the vehicle in an orchard south of County Road 2, west of County Road 88, before giving the deputy the slip on foot.
While the incident launched a massive manhunt by multiple law enforcement agencies, it wasn’t until DNA linked Jones to the crime that a search warrant was served at his Woodland home several months later, leading to his arrest, investigators said.
Jones will be arraigned on the new information from Rubio’s testimony on April 29.
Diego was a popular Pierce High School student, who played football, basketball, and participated in track and field.
His actions “do Colusa County proud,” officials said.