'AK-47 Bandit' hits North Bend bank and others along West Coast

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by TRAVIS PITTMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 18 at 5:21 PM

SEATTLE – The FBI says a heavily armed man responsible for a bank robbery in North Bend last week was responsible for shooting a police officer in California.

Agents say the so-called “AK-47 Bandit” robbed a bank in Chino, Calif., on Feb. 29. As his moniker suggests, he was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle with a drum magazine. Following the robbery, a police officer spotted the man leaving the bank. The robber fired at the officer, seriously wounding him.

The robber was seen leaving the scene in a vehicle described as a late-model, dark gray, four-door Nissan Maxima with chrome trim and tinted windows.

Before the robbery, 911 received a threatening phone call from a nearby pay phone. Agents believe it was the robber trying to create diversion in order to delay the police response to the bank.

Agents believe the same man was involved in bank robberies on March 9 in Sacramento and March 12 in Vacaville, Calif.  In both robberies, the same Nissan Maxima was used.

A similar takeover-style robbery happened July 6 at Chase Bank on Mount Si Boulevard in North Bend. The robber was armed with an AK-47 with a drum magazine. He was described as having a loud, deep voice with no accent and threatened to shoot the tellers if they did not hurt. The robber took the cash by hand, not in a bag. Here is a YouTube video of the robbery shown from surveillance cameras.

 

It’s believed he left the North Bend scene in a dirty, reddish-orange Jeep Patriot or Jeep Liberty. It may have had out-of-state license plates with a prominent blue stripe across the top.

In all the robberies, the suspect was dressed in tactical gear along with a dark-colored, short-sleeve collared shirt with blue pants. He also wore a black full-face ski mask, a blue ballistic vest or a green mesh vest marked “sheriff.” The vest could not be seen in surveillance images of the North Bend robbery.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, but agents caution that he should be considered heavily armed and dangerous.  Police are always especially concerned about criminals who are bold enough to shoot at police.

You can contact your local FBI office if you have information in the case.

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