'AK-47 Bandit' May Have Finally Been Caught, Thanks to Call With Mom

Richard Gathercole was arrested on other charges, then linked to string of heists
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2017 11:03 AM CDT
This undated booking photo provided by the FBI shows Richard Gathercole.   (FBI via AP)
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(Newser) – Richard Gathercole was arrested June 20 after he allegedly tried to shoot a Kansas state trooper who was attempting to pull him over due to an obscured vehicle registration. But thanks to a phone call with his mother from jail, authorities now believe Gathercole is also responsible for more—much more. The 39-year-old is suspected of being the "AK-47 Bandit," one of the most wanted bank robbers in the US, a law enforcement source tells the Los Angeles Times. "Did you get all the guns out, too?" Gathercole asked his mother, asking her to take them out of his Montana home "as soon as possible." "Um, this is recorded," she pointed out to him, to which he replied, "Yeah, I know." The call was cited in a search warrant request, reports the Washington Post; federal agents raided his home, where they say they found a number of homemade bombs.

The AK-47 Bandit has been sought by federal agents since 2012, when he shot and seriously wounded a police officer while fleeing a bank robbery in Chino, Calif. He's suspected of a string of robberies that followed that one—two more in California, one in Washington state, and one in Idaho, plus one in Nebraska in 2014 and one in Iowa in 2015. He wore a black ski mask, dark body armor, and a mesh vest with "sheriff" printed on the back during the robberies, and he brought an AK-47. In an affidavit, the FBI links Gathercole to at least two of those robberies. When Gathercole was arrested this month, authorities found a black ski mask like the one the bandit wore inside a stolen pickup Gathercole was allegedly driving; inside his own car, they say they found an AK-47. He's being held on charges of theft and possession of stolen firearms; federal charges have not yet been filed, per Fox News. (Read more bank robbery stories.)

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