OAKHURST – An Oakhurst man was arrested yesterday after creating a disturbance at the Wells Fargo Bank branch located in the Von’s Store and assaulting a bank employee.
Stephen Stagner, 53, and his mother entered the Von’s store shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, to go to Wells Fargo, reportedly to take some items out of a shared safe deposit box.
Witnesses say he was agitated and aggressive from the moment he came into the bank, and began banging on the glass door to the office, demanding service.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, a bank employee opened the door and offered a handshake, at which point Stagner slapped the employee’s hand and yelled that they had horrible service. Another employee then reportedly attempted to calm him and find out what he needed.
Even after his aggressive behavior and striking a bank employee, the Wells Fargo members did their best to provide him with the service he was requesting. Stagner and his mother were let into the safe deposit room, and after about 15 minutes, employees went back and knocked on the door and asked them to come out, according to the Sheriff’s Office. After being warned that his behavior was not acceptable, Stagner become extremely upset and began swearing and screaming that he was a loyal customer, cursing the bank employees about how worthless they were.
At this point, witnesses report that Stagner’s behavior was out of control, and the bank then called for sheriff’s deputies to assist at about 5:30 p.m., reporting that Stagner and his mother were creating a disturbance. When deputies arrived, they were told that Stagner had left the area, and that he had assaulted a teller.
While one deputy was outside trying to locate the man, several people hurried out of the store and told the deputy that his partner needed help, that he was on the ground with the suspect inside the store.
The deputy rushed back into the store to assist his partner, and by now, a large crowd had formed around them. One deputy was attempting to cuff the man, whose mom was screaming, “He didn’t do anything wrong!”
The deputy had one hand cuffed and ordered the man to put his other hand behind his back, and he refused to comply, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Witnesses report that the deputies were being very gentle with the man, taking him down to the floor one knee at a time.
“They never used excessive force on him,” said one witness. “He was so animated and was hollering so much, it took almost an hour for the whole thing to be over.”
The witness also stated that at one point the mother even put her hand on the deputy and tried to stop him from arresting her son.
Another witness said that while one of the bank employees was giving her statement to police, Stagner actually walked up to the woman and drew his finger across his throat in a threatening motion.
While he was being taken into custody, Stagner was reportedly yelling and screaming, “Help me, someone help me! Momma help me please! Ow Ow!” He then refused to stand up once he had been cuffed, and also refused to walk out of the store. Deputies had to basically carry him out as he kept screaming and yelling obscenities and according to the Sheriff’s Office, appeared to try and bite one of the deputies on the hand.
Once removed from the store, Stagner then refused to get into the patrol car, and one deputy had to get on the opposite side of the car and pull him in.
The suspect was placed under arrest and transported to Madera County Jail where he was charged with disorderly conduct, battery, interfering with a police officer, fighting and using offensive language – all misdemeanors. He was released on $1,000 bond.