A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest of an assault weapon-toting suspect accused of robbing a Vacaville bank, northeast of Suisun City, and trying to rob a Sacramento bank, both in March 2012.
The same suspect, dubbed the "AK-47 Bandit" by investigators, is accused of robbing a Chino bank while clad in body armor and shooting and wounding a Chino police officer in February, and he is believed linked to bank robberies in Washington state and Idaho, according to law enforcement.
The Chino bank robbery occurred Feb. 29 at the California Bank & Trust, 5455 Riverside Drive, police and FBI officials said Wednesday Jan. 16 during a press conference in Chino, east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County.
The suspect was a white male, described as 25 to 40 years old, with a stocky build. He was armed with an assault rifle, similar to an AK-47, with a sling and drum magazine, law enforcement officials said.
Following the robbery, a police officer patrolling the area came upon a suspect who was fleeing the bank, according to Chino police and the FBI. The suspect fired at 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," FBI officials said in a news release.
The suspect was seen leaving in a vehicle described as a dark gray 4-door Nissan Maxima with tinted windows.
Before 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, law enforcement officials said. Investigators believe the 911 call was a diversionary tactic to delay officers responding to the bank robbery.
The same suspect is believed to be connected to a March 12 robbery at Bank of the West in the 1000 block of Helen Power Drive in Vacaville, according to the FBI.
He may also have been involved in an attempted robbery on March 9 at Tri Counties Bank in the 1700 block of Challenge Way in Sacramento, according to the FBI.
"The suspect is believed to have used the above-described Nissan Maxima in both the Vacaville robbery and the Sacramento attempted robbery," FBI officials said.
In addition, a similar style take-over robbery occurred July 6 at the Chase Bank on Mt. Si Boulevard in North Bend, Washington, FBI officials said.
"The suspect was armed with a AK-47 style rifle with attached drum magazine," the FBI release stated. "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, FBI officials said. A dirty, reddish-orange Jeep Patriot or Liberty was parked in front of the bank as a getaway vehicle. The vehicle may have had out-of-state license plates with a prominent blue stripe across the top.
The most recent incident believed to involve the same suspect was a Nov. 7 robbery at the East Idaho Credit Union in Rexburg, Idaho, law enforcement officials said.
The suspect "entered the bank with what may have been an assault rifle and ordered the employees and customers into the vault," the FBI release stated. "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 more information was urged to contact investigators at a toll free number established for this suspect, 1 855 9 BANDIT, or e-mail 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," police and federal officials said.
The $100,000 reward is being offered collectively by multiple agencies, including the FBI and the City of Chino.