Agents searched Gathercole’s Montana home Saturday, where they found multiple guns and explosive devices. The type of vehicle used in the Nebraska City bank robbery and surveillance video appear to link that suspect to all of the robberies, Gress said.
The AK 47 Bandit has been wanted by federal authorities since 2012 for a series of robberies carried out with an AK 47 assault rifle in North Bend, WA, Vacaville, CA, Chino, CA, Sacramento, CA, Rexburg, ID and Nebraska City, NE.
During a 2012 robbery at a bank in Chino, CA, the AK-47 Bandit – dressed in body armor and wearing a ski mask – fired his AK-47 rifle at a Chino police officer outside the bank.
Among law enforcement agencies celebrating the arrest of the alleged AK-47 Bandit, one of the most satisfied was the Chino Police Department, which went through the ordeal of having an officer seriously wounded in a shootout with the suspect five years ago.
The FBI previously offered up to $100,000 reward for information leading to the man’s arrest and conviction.
Police found bombs in the home of a Roundup man who was arrested recently in Nebraska and may be under investigation for a string of bank robberies in several states. Chino Police Chief Karen Comstock said news that the suspect, now identified as Richard Lee Gathercole, 39, of Roundup, Montana, was identified and arrested “was one of the happiest days of my career”. During the search, investigators located several pieces of evidence they believe were used in the commission of the various bank robberies.
Investigators suspect Gathercole may be responsible for the series of six bank robberies during the span of three years in the states of California, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa, according to the press release.
A dispatcher who answered the phone at the sheriff’s office’s Monday could not immediately confirm that it was Gathercole’s home.
State-level charges have been filed in Kansas and Nebraska, and federal bank robbery charges in relation to the Omaha FBI jurisdiction are pending.
The robber held up the Iowa Heartland Credit Union in 2015.
Although Chino is where the crime series began, Comstock said investigators were still unsure what Gathercole’s ties to the city are, and could not comment on whether he had ever lived there.
On Monday, June 19, Gathercole was pulled over by a Kansas State Trooper, but sped away during the attempted stop, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
The statement said Gathercole is a Musselshell County resident. He was put into jail on charges of possessing a stolen firearm and stolen property.
On March 12, 2012, a bank robbery occurred at the Bank of the West on the 1000 block of Helen Power Drive in Vacaville, California.
It was the last known robbery linked to the AK-47 series. The suspect was armed with an AK-47 style rifle equipped with a drum magazine.
A sheriff’s deputy had spotted him pulling off the highway and realized that he and his vehicle matched the description of the assailant who fired on the Kansas trooper the evening before on Interstate 70 near Goodland.