California man and cancer patient Joe Jaramillo walked into Wells Fargo last Friday with a protective mask on. Unfortunately, that caused workers to mistake him for a bank robber.
Jaramillo had gone through chemotherapy the previous day and was wearing a mask to fight off germs. Despite medical advice discouraging him from entering public areas, Jaramillo chose to make a withdrawal to assert his independence.
“I just wanted to do something on my own,” Jaramillo said, who takes pleasure in mundane tasks and considers his ability to perform them a blessing.
When Jaramillo arrived at the Montebello Wells Fargo on Whittier Boulevard, the teller regarded him as the “Surgical Mask Bandit,” a bank robber wanted in two Orange County heists. Although Jaramillo made no demands, the teller stalled his withdrawal until police arrived.
“Then I noticed,” Jaramillo said, “behind the scenes, they even had shotguns.”
Jaramillo recounted being surrounded by police and being asked to put his hands above his head. Police then proceeded to search him and his car.
The 57-year-old said the experience was humiliating.
While he said he doesn’t fault the police for acting, Jaramillo is upset with the bank teller and management for overacting to his non-threatening actions.
Wells Fargo has not released a public apology, though an employee of the branch said the branch manager was unaware of the situation.