Menlo: Armed robbery suspect says he was 'being chased by Russians' during wild ride

Menlo Park police: Robbery occurred on Facebook bus

Efforts have been unsuccessful to get a man into court after he allegedly robbed a Facebook bus driver in Menlo Park before leading police on a wild chase June 28, claiming he was being pursued by Russians, according to prosecutors.

Richard Espinoza, 39, missed his first two scheduled court appearances, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. He refused to come to court June 30 and then was declared unfit for his rescheduled appearance Friday afternoon.

Espinoza is facing charges of armed robbery, evading police, hit-and-run, DUI and driving with an expired license. His arraignment was rescheduled once more to Tuesday afternoon, July 5.

The Bay Point man was arrested June 28 alongside 38-year-old Rayna Slone of Pittsburg following a series of events that began with a robbery reported at 4:22 p.m. that day, according to Menlo Park police.

A man reportedly boarded a Facebook bus by Ravenswood Pier near the Dumbarton Bridge in Menlo Park and took an iPad out of the driver's hands while holding what appeared to be a gun, according to police.

When Menlo Park police responded, they saw the suspect, later identified as Espinoza, still in a parked car with Slone. The two suspects fled east over the Dumbarton Bridge, police said.

The officers pursued them over the bridge to the East Bay. As the suspects approached Interstate 880, the driver struck another car but kept driving, according to police. The suspects were also throwing items out of the vehicle, prosecutors said.

The suspects continued to flee even after they later hit a center median on state Highway 84, damaging their vehicle. Police had temporarily called off the pursuit when the suspects allegedly swerved into oncoming traffic in Union City during the drawn-out chase.

They were arrested shortly after Union City police received reports of a possible carjacking on Alvarado-Niles Road about a mile north of Decoto Road, according to Menlo Park police.

Responding Union City police officers set up a perimeter and found the suspects nearby, trying to run away.

Espinoza appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance and he told police he was being "chased by Russians," prosecutors said.

He was booked into San Mateo County jail and is being held on $350,000 bail.

Slone was also booked into the jail on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

— Bay City News Service


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