A man who allegedly phoned in death threats to San Diego Pride in 2019 used to work for Pride as a security guard, a judge noted before he sentenced him to prison for bank robberies.
Andre Lafayette Holmes, 32, was sentenced Aug. 17 to 70 months in federal prison for three bank robberies that were only linked to him after he was arrested for threatening Pride employees.
When workers at the Pride office heard Holmes threaten to “shoot up the Pride event,” they called police, who arrested him the next day. Police then searched his home and found a bag of money and disguises that linked Holmes to the bank holdups.
- District Court Judge Larry Burns mentioned the irony that Holmes used to work for Pride before
- he allegedly threatened workers on July 10, 2019.
Attorney Kathryn Thickstun, who represents Holmes, told the judge Holmes worked security for Pride for several years.
“It struck me as a little bizarre,” said Burns, about the death threats.
Holmes will face a preliminary hearing in San Diego Superior Court in the fall regarding the death threats. He has pleaded not guilty.
Burns ordered him to pay $7,356 in restitution to all three banks he pleaded guilty to robbing in 2016, 2018, and 2019. They include the California Bank & Trust on Fifth Avenue and the Mission Federal Credit Union on Washington St., both in Hillcrest.
“His mental illness turned into his bank robberies,” said Thickstun, who added that Holmes now has “clarity” after being put on medication after his arrest.
“I’m extremely remorseful for what I did,” said Holmes, wearing a blue mask and a prison uniform. “I do not want to pass down a legacy of criminality.”
Holmes told Burns he recalled “trying to do the right thing” by attending a rally for Donald Trump in 2016. He also said he needs therapy.
“My plan, while I’m incarcerated, is to better myself,” said Holmes. “I’ll make a determined effort to remain law abiding.”
Holmes said after his release, he hopes to deter teenagers from crime by telling of his experiences.
“I’ll never again rob a bank. I’ll never again do anything criminal,” said Holmes. “I am extremely ashamed of what I did.”
Police arrested him July 11, 2010 in his 2009 Toyota minivan, and they recovered the cell phone in the minivan from which the calls to Pride were made.
Thickstun urged a 3-year term while Assistant U.S. Attorney Mario Peia asked for a 188-month term.
“I feel for the bank tellers. At the same time…this is what happens when you work for a bank,” said Thickstun.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns noted “these were armed robberies…and violence. I think it was a big deal.”
“No teller is looking to be robbed,” said Peia. “All the victims are too afraid to come here today.”
Peia noted that during the holdups, Holmes brought in a Big Gulp cup that was partially filled with water and instructed tellers to put the money in it so it could short circuit any dye tracker.
Peia said Holmes “was quite skillful” in the robberies. Burns added the robberies were “well planned.”
“His violent nature is escalating. While mental illness is certainly there…there’s a need to protect the public,” said Burns.
Holmes was diagnosed as having “schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type” in court documents.
In his first robbery in 2016, the demand note stated: “I’m sorry, good man on hard times, sincerely bank robber.”
Two of Holmes’ relatives and an old friend of his attended the sentencing.