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Montana man is bank robber dubbed 'AK-47 bandit'

Montana man is bank robber dubbed 'AK-47 bandit'

Authorities say Gathercole caught the attention of sheriff's deputies last week because he was driving a pickup truck that matched the description of one used in a shooting involving a Kansas State Trooper just one day prior. The trooper was not injured.

Over the weekend, the Musselshell County Sheriff's Office assisted the FBI, Chino California Police Department, and Rexburg (Idaho) Police Department in executing a search warrant at Gathercole's residence in Roundup. Investigators searched the home in the town of Roundup, Montana, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Billings, on Saturday and found "numerous" improvised explosive devices, authorities said.

Stephen Woolery, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles, said Tuesday, June 27, 2017, that Gathercole was arrested last week in Lexington, Neb., and that he is suspected to be a bank robber dubbed "the AK-47 bandit" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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. The FBI made the announcement in conjunction with representatives of the police department from Chino, Calif., where an officer was shot and severely wounded following a robbery there in 2012.

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 FBI's search applications details robberies allegedly carried out by Gathercole: one where he allegedly stole more than $90,000 from a bank in Nebraska City, Neb.in 2014, and another where he allegedly stole $126,000 in Mason City, Iowa and used an explosive device during the heist. It was the last known robbery linked to the AK-47 series. Rich Jensen said in a news release that the department was made aware of Gathercole's arrest last week and has been in communication since then with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the police in Chino.

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The FBI previously offered up to $100,000 reward for information leading to the man's arrest and conviction.

Once in custody he called his mother and asked her to "get all the guns out" of his house. The suspect was armed with an AK-47-style rifle fitted with a large-capacity drum magazine, matching the method of operations of previous bank robberies in the AK-47 series.

One of those may have occurred at a bank in Vacaville, California, in 2012. "And that's exactly what happened when he shot at a Kansas state trooper last Monday".

It was not immediately clear if Gathercole had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. He also was named as a resident of San Jacinto, California, after his arrest in Nebraska.

Gathercole has a court hearing in Nebraska on July 6, according to the transcript of his phone call with his mother. Musselshell County Attorney Kevin Peterson said that he doesn't now plan to file any local charges against Gathercole in addition to the misdemeanors charged in justice court.


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