LINCOLN, NE – Richard Gathercole, dubbed the “AK-47 Bandit”, received a 35 year prison sentence this week after a number of armed robberies, including one at a Mason City credit union.
On August 22, 2017 a federal grand jury in Nebraska indicted Richard Lee Gathercole, 39, the suspected “AK-47 Bandit,” on one count of bank robbery, one count of possession of a weapon, one count of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, and one count of transporting stolen fire arms across state lines in furtherance of a crime of violence related to the August 22, 2014 bank robbery in Nebraska City, Nebraska (First Nebraska Bank) and the criminal events leading to his arrest on June 19, 2017.
Gathercole, of Roundup, Montana, was apprehended by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office in Nebraska after a high-speed chase starting in Kansas, where he evaded authorities, on June 19, 2017. A federal search warrant was conducted on June 24, 2017 at Gathercole’ s residence in Roundup, Montana by members of the FBI; the Chino Police Department; the Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office; and the Rexburg, Idaho Police Department. During the search, investigators located several pieces of evidence they believe were used in the commission of the various bank robberies related to the Ak-47 series. In addition, Gathercole is known to have access to vehicles that match the description of the vehicles used to flee some of the robberies. Based on these and other factors, investigators believe that Gathercole is responsible for the bank robberies attributed to the AK-47 Bandit series.
“We are grateful for the diligent work of our law enforcement and prosecution partners in Nebraska and around the United States that are working collaboratively to ensure justice is carried out in this case,” Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Omaha Division Randall Thysse stated at the time.
The AK-47 Bandit series includes these robberies:
February 29, 2012, in Chino (California Bank & Trust)
March 12, 2012, in Vacaville, California (Bank of the West)
July 6, 2012, in North Bend, Washington (Chase Bank)
November 7, 2012, in Rexburg, Idaho (East Idaho Credit Union)
July 28, 2015, in Mason City, Iowa (Heartland Community Credit Union)
July 6, 2012 robbery of a bank in North Bend, Washington
There was also an attempted robbery on March 9, 2012, in Sacramento, California, at the Tri-Cities Bank.
Due to the various crimes alleged and jurisdictions involved at various levels of government, investigators continue to consult with prosecutors regarding applicable charges.
The investigation of the AK-47 Bandit bank robbery series was conducted by the Chino Police Department; the Rexburg Police Department; the Musselshell County Sheriff’s Department in Montana; the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force; the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington; the Vacaville Police Department; the Sacramento Police Department; the Nebraska City Police Department; the Greater Omaha Bank Robbery Task Force; as well as FBI field offices that cover each of the jurisdictions where robberies occurred (FBI Los Angeles, FBI Sacramento, FBI Seattle, FBI Omaha, and FBI Salt Lake City).
On Wednesday of this week, Gathercole was in a federal courtroom in Lincoln, Nebraska, were as part of a plea deal, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison – the max sentence – for his crimes.