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

Man who shot at Kansas trooper and had bombs in Roundup home may be linked to bank robberies

Man who shot at Kansas trooper and had bombs in Roundup home may be linked to bank robberies

Though he escaped that day and would continue to evade authorities for years, officials believe the perpetrator in that incident is the same man who opened fire on a Kansas state trooper with an assault rifle after the officer attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation on June 19, said Stephen Woolery, a special agent in charge at the FBI's Los Angeles office.

Richard Gathercole, 39, was arrested after he shot at a state trooper, but authorities later learned he's wanted for a series of bank robberies. The trooper wasn't injured.

Police from Chino, California, and Rexburg, Idaho, participated in the search, according to the Musselshell County Sheriff's department.

They found numerous improvised explosive devices that were removed by a bomb squad.

Investigators believe he may be responsible for the series of six bank robberies linked to the AK-47 bandit, which occurred over three years in the states of California, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa.

In 2012 and 2014, a man the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the "AK-47 Bandit" robbed several banks, as well as shot and wounded a police officer in Chino, California. Gathercole is also the suspect in two officer-involved shootings, including one which left a California police officer seriously wounded.

At the time of his arrest, Gathercole was in possession of a stolen pickup truck.

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, 2014, and another where he allegedly stole $126,000 in Mason City, Iowa and used an explosive device during the heist.

The search warrant application does not describe the other "AK-47 Bandit" robberies.

Federal agents say homemade bombs were found at the home. Another deputy was called for backup and Gathercole was taken at gunpoint into custody without further trouble, Dawson County Sheriff Gary Reiber said.

A transcript of a call that Gathercole made from jail quotes him asking his mother to clear his Montana home of guns after his arrest.

The investigation is on-going and additional information will be provided by the FBI, according to the Musselshell County Sheriff's Office.

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.

The AK-47 bandit is known to wear a balaclava mask with an AK-47 rifle during the robberies.

It wasn't immediately clear if Gathercole has an attorney who could comment. Police say he had a bulletproof vest, an AK-47 and a mask in his vehicle. "And that's exactly what happened when he shot at a Kansas state trooper last Monday".

Gathercole was previously identified as being from San Jacinto, California, after his arrest in Nebraska at a gas station in Lexington.

Federal charges have not been filed, Eimiller said.

Gathercole has a court hearing in Nebraska on July 6, according to the transcript of his phone call with his mother.

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