The FBI and four law enforcement agencies in as many states upped the ante on finding the “AK-47 Bandit,” who is alleged to have shot and wounded a police officer and held up or tried to rob several other banks in three states on the west coast.
A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest of the suspect who shot and wounded a Chino Police officer after robbing a bank last year and who has since been linked to additional bank robberies in other states.
The increased reward and publicity campaign was announced a joint press conference this morning held by the FBI’s Assistant Director in Charge in Los Angeles, Bill Lewis; the Chief of Police of the Chino Police Department, Miles Pruitt; the Chief of Police of the North Bend, Washington Police Department, Mark Toner; and the Chief of Police of the Rexburg, Idaho Police Department, Shane Turman.
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, the California Bank and Trust on 5455 Riverside Drive in Chino, California, was robbed by a white male, described as 25-40 years old, with a stocky build.
The suspect was armed with an assault rifle, similar to an AK-47, with a sling and drum magazine. Following the robbery, a police officer patrolling the area came upon the bank robbery suspect who was fleeing the bank.
The suspect fired upon the officer and seriously wounded him.
During and following the robbery, the suspect wore body armor over a dark-colored collared short-sleeved shirt and blue pants, as well as a ski mask covering his face.
The suspect was seen leaving the scene in a vehicle described as a dark gray Nissan Maxima with four doors and tinted windows.
Prior to the bank robbery, a threat was called into the 911 dispatch center from a payphone in the general vicinity of the bank by a male caller.
Investigators believe the suspect employed a diversionary tactic in an attempt to delay officers responding to the bank robbery.
Since the Chino robbery and attempted murder of the police officer, the suspect has been linked to additional bank robberies and one attempt.
The suspect is also believed to be connected to the March 12, 2012, robbery of the Bank of the West on the 1000 block of Helen Power Drive in Vacaville, California.
He may also have been involved in an attempted robbery three days prior on March 9, 2012, of the Tri Counties Bank on the 1700 block of Challenge Way in Sacramento, California.
The suspect is believed to have used the above-described Nissan Maxima in both the Vacaville robbery and the Sacramento attempted robbery.
On July 6, 2012, a similar style take-over robbery occurred at the Chase Bank on Mt. Si Boulevard in North Bend, Washington. The suspect was armed with a AK-47 style rifle with attached drum magazine. He had a loud, deep voice with no obvious accent and threatened to shoot the tellers if they did not hurry.
The suspect carried the cash by hand as he did not bring a bag. A dirty, reddish-orange Jeep Patriot or Liberty was parked out front of the bank as a getaway vehicle. It may have had out-of-state license plates with a prominent blue stripe across the top.
On November 7, 2012, a robbery took place at the East Idaho Credit Union in Rexburg, Idaho. At approximately 4:30 p.m., the suspect entered the bank with what may have been an assault rifle and ordered the employees and customers into the vault. After obtaining the money, the suspect fled in a dark blue sedan with tinted windows and a red and blue license plate.
He was last seen headed south on South Yellowstone Highway.
Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of this suspect is urged to contact investigators at a toll-free number established for this case: 1-855-9-BANDIT or send an e-mail to this address: email@example.com.
This suspect is considered heavily armed and dangerous and individuals who may come into contact with him are advised to contact law enforcement immediately and refrain from taking independent action to apprehend the suspect.
Billboard advertising has been donated to assist with the publicity on this case. Digital ads, to include a bank surveillance photo, the reward offer, and the toll-free number, will run for several days in the Los Angeles market, as well as other markets around the United States.
The $100,000 reward is being offered collectively by multiple entities, broken down as follows.
City of Chino: $20,000
East Idaho Credit Union, City of Rexburg, Idaho: $20,000
California Bank & Trust: $10,000
It should be noted that each entity offering reward money attaches a separate set of criteria that must be met in order for reward money to be paid.
This case is being investigated jointly by the Chino Police Department; the Rexburg Police Department; the North Bend Police Department; the Vacaville Police Department; and the Sacramento Police Department, as well as FBI offices in each of the above-mentioned jurisdictions.