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‘AK-47 Bandit’, suspected of bank robbery and shooting cop in Chino, pleads guilty to robbery in Nebraska

A Montana man dubbed the AK-47 bandit for the assault rifle he’s accused of using to hold up banks in several states has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Nebraska.
Richard Lee Gathercole, of Roundup, Montana, is suspected of being the “AK-47 Bandit.” (Courtesy of the Chino Police Department)
Richard Gathercole, 40, could face up to 35 years in prison after admitting Monday in federal court that he used an AK-47 assault rifle to steal more than $90,000 from a Nebraska City bank in 2014. He also pleaded guilty to a 2017 carjacking that led to his arrest.
Gathercole is scheduled for sentencing in June.
The FBI has been looking for years for the man they called the “AK-47 Bandit,” who typically wore a balaclava and carried an assault rifle with a drum magazine during the robberies. Investigators believe Gathercole’s first robbery was on Feb. 29, 2012, in Chino.
The robbery spree began at California Bank and Trust at 5455 Riverside Drive in Chino. He fired six shots at a Chino police officer after leaving the bank , striking the officer’s moving patrol car four times. One of the bullets struck the officer.
Police also suspected the man or an accomplice called 911 before the heist, reporting that there was a bomb on the south end of the city to lure officers away from the bank.
For years, FBI agents searched for the AK-47 Bandit. He typically wore a mask and carried an AK-47 rifle with a drum-type magazine.
He was arrested June 20 at a gas station in Lexington, Neb. , after authorities say he fired an AK-47 at a Kansas state trooper who was trying to pull him over.
He had stolen a truck and guns, according to the search warrant.
Authorities then raided Gathercole’s Montana home and found several homemade bombs, according to the search warrant.

Related links

AK-47 Bandit, linked to Chino bank robbery, arrested in Nebraska; bombs found in Montana home
AK-47 Bandit: Police get word out about robber who held up Chino bank, shot officer
San Bernardino County District Attorney wants AK-47 Bandit suspect brought to Inland region

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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