FBI Involved in Robbery

Model Robbery

Fitness Model Robbery Suspect

You would think that a model wouldn’t need to commit a crime, especially one that would involve a robbery or risking their career.

Solana Beach fitness model arrested by the FBI in North Park this week was a fugitive in a cross-country crime spree including bank robberies, stolen cars and pursuits in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

David Emery Byers, 34, known for art nude photos revealing tattoos and chiseled muscles, also faces local charges of grand theft.

FBI agents in tactical gear cornered him in a parking lot at Upas and 30th streets about 9 p.m. Tuesday. They fired a flash-bang round, apparently to distract Byers, as they took him into custody. Byers was evaluated for injuries before being booked into jail on a fugitive warrant from Connecticut.

Allegations that Byers is suspected of robbing gas stations and banks in Connecticut and New York surprised Los Angeles-based fine arts photographer Michael Stokes. In an email, Stokes said Byers was one of his most popular models “because of his bad-boy, handsome looks.”

Model Suspect

Stokes said he and Byers got to be friends in the course of three photo shoots between 2013 and 2015. Byers’ images were used on the covers of four novels and Stokes’ coffee-table book of male nudes, “Exhibition.”

Stokes Statement:

He has always been a hard worker, respectful and kind. He is devoted to his girlfriend and his pet dog,

Byers texted Stokes in the middle of his alleged East Coast robberies last week.

“He did not indicate that anything was wrong, in fact quite the opposite,” Stokes said. “Letting me know he had moved to New York, sent me some photos of his new digs.”

According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday by Greenwich, Conn. police, Byers stole a black Range Rover in San Diego on March 28. That SUV was used as a getaway car in an April 26 robbery of a Chase bank branch in Greenwich. The complaint says the same robber held up the same branch the day before, and a Greenwich gas station on April 24. The three robberies netted $12,346.

The SUV’s license plate had been stolen in Suffolk County, N.Y. on April 20. Authorities there were investigating a string of gas station and bank robberies similar to the ones in Greenwich.

The complaint alleges Byers eluded Greenwich police in an April 28 pursuit by ditching the SUV and his white pit bull and running away. He is suspected of stealing another Range Rover in Port Chester, N.Y. that night. Detectives “pinged” his cellphone on Sunday, when he was in Gallup, N.M.

FBI Helps Robbery Case

The next morning, an officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety got into a pursuit with the driver of a stolen black Chevrolet pickup. They headed west on Interstate 8 for about three miles, reaching Yuma, until the driver stopped, got out of the truck and ran into a motel parking lot, DPS Detective Chuck Ordonez said Thursday.

Ordonez said officers, with Yuma police, searched extensively for the driver but didn’t find him. The pickup had been stolen in Pennsylvania on Saturday, its license plate was stolen in Maryland, and another plate in the truck bed was stolen in Indiana.

Fingerprints in the truck revealed Byers had been driving it, Ordonez said.

Byers called a friend to get a ride from Yuma, said Special Agent Davene Butler of the San Diego FBI office. She said Byers then borrowed a car from a friend, and he was in that vehicle when he was arrested.

“He had evaded other law enforcement before. We wanted to get him off the streets,” Butler said.

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