Suspect dubbed ‘Chameleon Bandit’ to be arraigned in connection to eight robberies

EL CAJON (KUSI) — An El Cajon man dubbed the "Chameleon Bandit" who’s suspected of pulling off eight bank robberies this month in San Diego County and Temecula in Riverside County was arrested in El Cajon and is due to be arraigned on felony robbery charges Tuesday in downtown San Diego, according to police and jail records. 

Authorities said Darius Demon Lake, 27, changed his appearance for each robbery, thus earning the “Chameleon Bandit” moniker from the FBI’s Joint Bank Robbery Task Force and San Diego Violent Crime Task Force. But despite his prolific spree, which allegedly included three heists in El Cajon, Lake and another El Cajon man were arrested this week after they apparently left physical evidence behind at one of the robberies, police said. 

The series of heists began Oct. 5 at an El Cajon bank and continued until Friday, El Cajon police Lt. Walt Miller said. The "Chameleon Bandit" allegedly carried out three robberies in El Cajon and at least one in Temecula in Riverside County, never using a weapon but deploying threats to secure cash from frightened bank tellers. 

Brian Lee Barkley, 24, is accused of helping Lake with at least one of the El Cajon heists, Miller said. During that robbery, Lake and Barkley allegedly left behind physical evidence that allowed detectives to identify them and link Lake to the string of thefts. 

"Arrest warrants were then issued for both men," Miller said.

An El Cajon patrol officer spotted Barkley about 2:30 p.m. Sunday and took him into custody in the area of Main Street and Mollison Avenue, the lieutenant said. Late that night, a detective recognized the "Chameleon Bandit" in the 900 block of East Madison Avenue.

"The suspect went into an apartment, exited the apartment a short while later and got into a vehicle being driven by another individual," Miller said. Just after midnight Monday, "El Cajon officers stopped that vehicle and the suspect was taken into custody."

The driver of the vehicle carrying Lake was also arrested for driving on a suspended license, but police did not believe he was involved in any of the robberies. 

Lake was booked about 4:30 Monday morning and was being held Tuesday in the San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of five felony counts of robbery, according to jail records, which also indicated he was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at the downtown San Diego courthouse. Barkley was no longer listed as a jail inmate Tuesday. 

Anyone with further information about the "Chameleon Bandit," his accomplice Barkley or any of the bank robberies this month was asked to call the El Cajon Police Department at (619) 579-3311 or the FBI at (858) 320-1800.  

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