A man known as the "AK-47 bandit" was arrested in Lexington and has been linked to armed bank robberies across the country as well as the shootings of a California police officer and a Kansas state trooper, authorities announced Tuesday. Gathercole's arrest came the day after a man fired on a Kansas trooper on Interstate 70. The trooper wasn't injured.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, along with officers from Chino; Rexburg, Idaho; and Montana's Musselshell County searched Gathercole's home in the town of Roundup, about 50 miles north of Billings, on Saturday, according to officials with the Musselshell County Sheriff's Office.
They found numerous improvised explosive devices that were removed by a bomb squad.
Based on a variety of factors, to include the description of the suspect and evidence found, investigators suspect that Gathercole may be responsible for the series of six bank robberies linked to the AK-47 Bandit.
In 2012 and 2014, a man the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the "AK-47 Bandit" robbed several banks, as well as shot and wounded a police officer in Chino, California.
Federal authorities held a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday to confirm their belief that Gathercole, 39 years old, is the bank robber wanted in at least five states.
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The application also accuses Gathercole of stealing $126,000 from a bank in Mason City, Iowa, in 2015.
Gathercole was arrested last week near Lexington, Neb. for allegedly shooting at law enforcement in Sherman County in Kansas with an AK-47, according to the search warrant filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Billings.
But agents said the explosives and guns found in Gathercole's Roundup residence, which authorities were alerted to by a jail call from Gathercole to his grandmother, were the same types of weapons used in the bank robberies.
"My understanding is that during the bank robberies he was ruthless", said Musselshell County Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik.
"We haven't confirmed that he's our AK-47 bandit", said Vacaville police Lt. Matt Lydon.
According to a transcript of the call, Gathercole told his mother, who is unnamed, to "get all the guns out" of the house.
The FBI previously offered up to $100,000 reward for information leading to the man's arrest and conviction. The suspect was armed with an AK-47 style rifle equipped with a drum magazine.
On March 12, 2012, a bank robbery occurred at the Bank of the West on the 1000 block of Helen Power Drive in Vacaville, California. Musselshell County Attorney Kevin Peterson said that he doesn't now plan to file any local charges against Gathercole in addition to the misdemeanors charged in justice court. His court hearing is set for July 6.