Man admits robbing 3 banks in 1 week

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bankRobberySAN DIEGO — A man who held up three banks over the course of a week, two of them within a span of 90 minutes, pleaded guilty Friday to robbery charges.

Douglas Michael Ellens, 39, faces up to seven years in state prison when he is sentenced Jan. 24, said Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai.

Ellens’ robbery spree began Sept. 5 at a US Bank branch in the 5400 block of Balboa Avenue in Clairemont Mesa, according to San Diego police.

Bank teller Pamela Gonzalez testified at a hearing last month that Ellens approached her station and handed her a note, telling her to stay calm and hand over all of the money in her cash drawer.

“I felt scared,” Gonzalez testified. “He took it (the money) and left.”

Gonzalez said she was told the robber got away with about $6,000.

About 3:20 p.m. on Sept. 12, Ellens handed a demand note to a teller at a US Bank branch in the 4800 block of Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, then did the same about 90 minutes later at a Comerica Bank branch in the 3300 block of Rosecrans Street in the Midway area, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Kevin Mayer said.

Several hours later, officers tracked the suspect down at a Super 8 Hotel two blocks from the site of the third robbery and arrested him without a struggle.

Alejandra Costantino testified she was working at the US Bank on Newport when Ellens, wearing a hat and sunglasses, put a demand note on her counter that read, “This is a robbery” and “I have a gun.”

The teller said she gave the robber $832, including a dye pack that explodes when the money leaves the bank.

Comerica bank teller Ikhlas Soulaqa testified that Ellens came to her desk and presented a note demanding money and saying he had a gun.

“I was very scared,” Soulaqa said. She said she gave the robber more than $1,000 in cash, which included a GPS tracking device.

San Diego police Detective DeWayne Glazewski testified that Ellens told him that he had been on a crack cocaine binge after breaking up with his girlfriend and had been living in his car.

Glazewski said detectives searched a hotel room and found a folder with cash and part of a GPS tracking device on a bed.

Detectives also searched Ellens’ Lincoln Navigator and found clothing worn by the robber, Glazewski testified.

Under questioning, Ellens admitted to all three robberies, the detective said.