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

Published: Jun. 19, 2017 at 7:27 PM CDT
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Authorities say a Montana man accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper is a bank robber dubbed "the AK-47 bandit" by the FBI.

Stephen Woolery, special agent in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, said Tuesday that Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, was arrested last week in Lexington, Nebraska.

Gathercole is suspected of committing six bank robberies and an attempted bank robbery in California, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa.

Gathercole is also accused of wounding a police officer in a shooting after a 2012 bank robbery in Chino, California.

The FBI has said he typically wore a mask and carried an AK-47 rifle with a drum magazine during the robberies.

A jailhouse phone call transcript showed Gathercole asked his mother to clear his home of guns after his arrest. Authorities found numerous homemade explosives inside the home on Saturday.

It wasn't immediately clear if Gathercole has an attorney who could comment.


Update: The man arrested for shooting at a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper has been identified as Richard Lee Gathercole.

"We were responding even before the shots fired," said Sherman County Sheriff Burton Pianalto. "The trooper said something was wrong. He basically called out that we were probably going to be 10-32."

That the police code for a chase.

Sheriff Pianalto says in the moments of chaos, he was most concerned for his citizens. He says if someone is willing to fire shots at an officer, imagine what harm they could do to someone who is unarmed.

The Dawson County, Neb. Sheriff's Office says Gathercole is from San Jacinto, California.

Pianalto says he will likely be brought back to Kansas to face charges.


The Kansas Highway Patrol said deputies in Dawson County, Nebraska arrested a man who authorities believe shot at a trooper Monday in Sherman County.

KHP dispatchers said the man was found near Lexington, Nebraska early Tuesday morning.

He was last seen late-Monday night fleeing north in a stolen pickup truck.


Update: The Sherman County Sheriff's Office says the suspect vehicle has been located in Rawlins County and the suspect is believed to have stolen another vehicle: a green F-150 pickup. The sheriff's office says the suspect has been spotted in Nebraska and is considered armed and dangerous.

Sherman County residents, Please be aware of a situation in eastern Sherman County. Please check and lock your vehicles....

Posted by Sherman County KS Sheriff's Office on Monday, June 19, 2017


The Kansas Highway Patrol says someone fired shots at a trooper in Sherman County.

This happened along I-70 around 6 p.m. Monday in Goodland.

KHP dispatchers say the trooper was not hurt. The shooter drove away, and no arrests have been made.

KHP Trooper Tod Hileman says the suspect fired at the trooper with some type of rifle. He says the suspect fired after the trooper attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, described as a four-door black Toyota Camry. He says the vehicle was last seen traveling south from Goodland.

The Thomas County Sheriff's Office says the suspect vehicle was first observed traveling east on I-70 before exiting and traveling south from the Edson exit (Exit 27).

We are working to gather more details on this incident. We will update this with any new information as it comes into our newsroom.

Anyone with information on the possible whereabouts of the suspect or the suspect vehicle should call 911 immediately.