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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: bank robberies

Reward for tips on armed bank robber

Detectives are hoping for fresh clues in an armed bank robbery Dec. 2 in Spokane Valley.

A gunman demanded cash from two tellers at Sterling Savings Bank, 11205 E. Sprague Ave., about 2:25 p,.m. after walking into the bank with his gun already displayed, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

“The robber was so low-key and calm, several customers inside the bank at the time were not aware it was being robbed,” according to a news release.

Tellers stuffed cash into blue cloths bags with a clinch drawstring at the top, and the robber placed the blue bags into a similar green bag and walked out the east doors of the bank. He was last seen walking eastbound.

  He is described as a white man, 25 to 30 years old, 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds.

He wore a dark jacket, blue jeans, a knit cap, a scarf covering his lower face and dark glasses over his eye.

Police found the glasses, scarf and cap but have not identified a suspect. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest.

SPD nabs Tri-Cities bank heist suspect

Patrol officers arrested a suspected bank robber Monday night after detectives in the Tri-Cities tracked him to northwest Spokane.

John T. Walker, 22, was arrested as he fled from a home at 2733 W. Wellesley Ave., about 9:45 p.m., according to a search warrant filed today.

Police believe Walker robbed a Sterling Savings Bank in Kennewick of about $1,800 Monday afternoon, then paid two friends to drive him to Spokane.

A state probation officer recognized Walker from surveillance photos and notified detectives, who learned from the suspect's roommate that he was headed to Spokane.

Detectives tracked pings from Walker's cellphone to the area of the Walmart at 2301 W. Wellesley Ave. They also used vehicle records to connect Walker's friends to a 1991 Honda Accord, which Spokane police officers spotted outside the home where Walker soon fled, according to the search warrant.

The warrant was used to search the home and the Accord and seize cash, a cell phone and a bag of marijuana.

Walker was arrested on a Department of Corrections warrant and appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on a drug charge. Walker's friends told police that he'd claimed to have recently inherited money and “just wanted to come to Spokane to have some fun,” according to the warrant. Neither has been arrested.

Carjacking, robbery gets man 15 years

A Spokane man who used a gun in a carjacking and bank robbery after escaping from a work release center in May has been sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison.

Brian E. Gorder, 32, was ordered to spend 171 months in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree robbery and one count of escape before Judge Maryann Moreno.

Federal agents and a police dog arrested him a day after he robbed Washington Trust Bank, 3810 N. Maple, at gunpoint and escaped in a Buick Lucerene he’d carjacked from a woman in the K-Mart parking lot on North Division Street.

Gorder was serving time for a police chase shown on “Cops” when he left the Brownstone Work Release Center and went on the crime spree.

In 2004, Gorder told the newspaper he needed help overcoming his addiction to methamphetamine.

“I’m not a bad person,” he said at the time. “The issue is I have a drug problem. Once I get going on this stuff, I do things I normally wouldn’t do.”

He’s now in jail awaiting transport to prison.

2nd bank extortion suspect arrested

The girlfriend of a man accused of a botched bank extortion has been arrested on a conspiracy to commit robbery charge. 

Cheryl A. Siekerman, 33, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where she was booked Thursday.

She’s accused of helping Donnell L. Winston, who police say called Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis, on Oct. 14 and threatened to blow up five school if he didn’t receive $10,000.

Police say Winston asked for the money to be dropped off at 13th and Arthur - where his home is located. Police saw him talking on his cell phone on porch, then watched him retrieve a package dropped off by an undercover detective.

Winston, 37, was convicted of bank robbery in 2004 and was arrested the night of the incident on a probation violation and remains in jail. Police have recommended he be charged with attempted first-degree bank robbery, along with five bomb threat charges.

Masked gunman robs Rathdrum bank

A gunman in a large parka and an orange ski mask robbed a bank in Rathdrum Thursday.

Surveillance photos show the man entering the Wells Fargo, 16234 North Highway 41, at 11:37 a.m. Police say he pointed a gun at a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The robber, who police believe was alone, is described as a white man in his 20s, 5-foot-5 with a thin to medium build.

He drove away southbound on Highway 41 to westbound Highway 53 in a two-door silver compact car, possibly a newer Honda, that was parked in the bank parking lot.

Anyone with information is asked to call Rathdrum police at (208) 687-0711 or the Coeur d’Alene division of the FBI at (208) 664-5128.

The robbery occurred about 40 minutes after a bomb threat was called into Garwood Elementary School, which is about five miles from the bank, but police do not know if the incidents are related.

Bank extortion was like ‘a bad movie’

The request was clear: $10,000, or bombs would detonate at five Spokane elementary schools.

Police say that phone call to a north Spokane bank turned out to be nothing more than a poorly executed crime by a convicted bank robber who led detectives to his doorstep.

It’s like out of a bad movie,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman. “The sad thing is we do have to treat it as real, because the reality is this stuff happens.”

Now police are recommending six felony charges against Donnell L. Winston, 37, for the Oct. 14 phone call to Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis Ave.

Read my full story here.

FBI mum on bank robbery suspect

A gunman suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank on Thursday remains in federal custody as investigators probe his possible role in a series of robberies since December.

Federal agents said they had no new information to release about the man, who has not been publicly identified. 

“I think it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday before we see him in court,” Frank Harrill, FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said today.

The FBI has been hunting for a bicycle-riding bank robber believed to be responsible for at least six hold ups since December. (A robbery at Chase Bank in April is pictured.)

The suspect arrested Thursday had a bike, wore a mask and displayed a gun, which is consistent with the other incidents.

“Clearly, there are commonalities,” Harrill said.

A Spokane police sergeant on his way home arrested the suspect, who witnesses say robbed the Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., just before 4 p.m.

Jury indicts 3-time bank robbery suspect

A man arrested in Spokane on suspicion of bank robberies in Omak, Wenatchee and Moses Lake is to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court.

A grand jury indicted Cameron Len Gaunt, 28, of Chelan, on three counts of bank robbery Aug. 25, more than one month after he was arrested as he stepped outside a Spokane motel room.

Gaunt is accused of robbing the Bank of America in Omak July 13, a Washington Trust Bank in Wenatchee on July 16 and a Washington Trust Bank in Moses Lake on July 20.

The robberies netted more than $12,000, but a citizen’s tip led federal authorities to identify Gaunt as a suspect.

The first robbery came less than a month after Gaunt was released from federal prison for passing counterfeit currency across the Pacific Northwest. He had a prior history of passing forged checks and told police he was released from jail in June 2007 but soon became addicted to methamphetamine and “started hanging around the wrong crowd,” according to sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors.

Before his sentencing in August 2008, prosecutors predicted that, without “significant effort” on Gaunt’s part, his criminal behavior would continue after prison, according to court documents.

Gaunt is being housed at the Spokane County Jail. He’s due in federal court Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Girlfriend’s mom turns in robbery suspect

A man suspected of robbing a north Spokane credit union was turned in to police by his girlfriend’s mother. 

Eric C. Mason, 41, pleaded not guilty this morning to first-degree robbery, more than four months after police say he handed a threatening note to a teller at Spokane Teachers Credit Union, 8703 N. Indian Trail Road, then fled with about $1,200. 

Surveillance photos from the April 23 robbery showed a man with a black jacket and black knit cap.

Police say Mason’s driver’s license photo matched the robber’s image; detectives looked at it after Mason’s girlfriend mother called and said her daughter drove Mason to the robbery.

Mason later admitted to his girlfriend that he’d robbed the credit union, police said. He didn’t display a weapon but wrote in the note: “Put money in envelope do not alarm! No dye pac’s no tracking devices! No problems,” according to court documents.

Mason reportedly told his girlfriend he planned to turn himself in, but Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said he left town instead.

A warrant was issued May 4; Mason was booked into Spokane County Jail Aug. 20, where he remains after his arraignment in Spokane County Superior Court this morning.

Photos show bike-riding CdA bank robber

Surveillance photos show a masked gunman who police say robbed a Coeur d’Alene bank on Friday, then escaped on a bicycle. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify the man, who police say threw a cloth grocery bag at employees at Wells Fargo, 114 E. Appleway, about 6 p.m. while telling them to hurry and waving a “large-caliber handgun.”

 The robber left with an undisclosed amount of cash and was last seen riding a gray, three-speed bicycle south on Government Way. 

He wore a black mask, a black bike helmet, denim shorts, a long-sleeve button-down shirt and white shoes with red “squiggly” lines.  He was carrying a white cloth grocery bag with an American flag on it and the phrase “Freedom is not free,” and was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, police said.

Anyone with information about the robbery or the robber is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or toll free at (888) 667-2111. Tipsters do not have to give a name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number. 

Investigators do not believe the robbery is related to a series of bank robberies in Spokane that have been attributed to a man who typically escapes on a bike.

“There’s nothing inclusive at this point to indicate that was him,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill.

The FBI in Spokane still is seeking tips on that robber, who they believe is responsible for six robberies since December. The most recent was a noon-hour armed robbery at the Indian Trail branch of the Spokane Teacher Credit Union July 28.

Anyone with information on those robberies is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

Wigged woman sought in 2 bank robberies

A woman who wore a red wig to rob a Spokane bank in late June may have struck again this week.

A robber matching the description of the culprit in the June 30 heist at Banner Bank, 933 E. Mission, stole an undisclosed amount of cash from Banner Bank, 3919 N. Market, just before 1 p.m. Monday, Spokane police announced Wednesday.

The woman did not display a weapon and appears to have worn a black wig (left). 

Police say she appeared 45 to 50 years old, 5-foot-5 with black hair and dark sunglasses.

In the June 30 robbery, police say the same woman wore a wig and sunglasses (left, right) while demanding cash from  employees at the bank,  which is located inside a Safeway grocery store.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest.

Anyone with information on the woman is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

The woman is the second alleged serial bank robber operating in Spokane. The FBI still is looking for a bicycle-riding bandit linked to six robberies since December.

Bank robber foiled by mother gets 10 years

A Spokane bank robber turned in by his mother will spend more than a decade in prison. 

Douglas E. Labish, 35, was sentenced to 129 months in prison Thursday by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Conner after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery.

Labish also is to repay $1,650, the amount of cash he stole from Banner Bank (pictured), inside the Safeway grocery store at 933 E. Mission, on Feb. 22.

Labish was arrested outside Banner Bank in the Safeway at 3919 N. Market on Feb. 25 after employees reported someone matching the robber’s description pacing in front of the store.

His mother already had called police after she recognized Labish from surveillance photos of the Feb. 22 robbery.

Labish, who police say lived at the House of Faith homeless shelter, spent time in federal prison for robbing three banks in 2002 - including an old bank located at the same location where Banner on Mission now is.

FBI hunts for bicycle-riding bank robber

A masked gunman believed to have robbed six banks since December still is being sought by the FBI. 

A noon-hour armed robbery at the Indian Trail branch of the Spokane Teacher Credit Union last Wednesday is similar to others heists attributed to a man who usually flees on a bicycle.

“It’s likely to be the same individual, although we are still actively investigating,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill. 

The suspected serial robber last struck May 25 at U.S. Bank, 621 E. 30th Ave., about 11:30 a.m., prompting lockdowns at nearby Sacajawea Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School.

The crime spree is believed to have started Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd., then continued Feb. 13 (top left) and April 19 (right) at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd. 

On May 18, the gunman wore a motorcycle helmet (left)and forced an employee at Chase Bank, 3007 E. 57th Ave., to the floor at gunpoint. 

Witnesses in at least one of the robberies said the gunman appeared to be familiar with how banks operate and knew which cash drawers to request.

The robber is described as white, 6-feet tall, in his 30s with a thin-to-medium build and fair complexion.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

Photos show woman robbing Spokane bank

Spokane police are still looking for a woman robbed a bank inside a Spokane grocery store on Wednesday. 

The woman left with an undisclosed cash after threatening a teller at Banner Bank in Safeway, 933 E. Mission, about 1:25 p.m., police said.

The robber is described as a white, 45 to 50, 5-foot-5, heavy set and wearing red hair and dark sunglasses.

She fled out the north door of the store. Police converged on the area but haven’t located a suspect. 

The same bank was robbed in February.

Douglas E. Labish, already convicted of three bank robberies in 2002, is set to enter a plea for that robbery on July 8.

Anyone with information on today’s robbery is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Hunt still on for alleged bank robber’s driver

A bank robbery suspect who used a carjacked vehicle as his transportation was arraigned on two felonies Tuesday as police continue to search for his getaway driver.

Police still haven’t determined who was driving the stolen Buick Lucerene when Gorder got into the car as a passenger after allegedly robbing Washington Trust Bank, 3810 N. Maple, on May 28.

Gorder was arrested the next day, but he refused to talk to detectives and police didn’t recover the Buick for several days.

Now they’re searching Gorder’s cell phone records for clues about how might have driven him from the bank robbery. If you have any information, all Crime Check at 456-2233.

Gorder pleaded not guilty today to charges of first-degree escape and first-degree burglary connected to an alleged crime spree that began when he escaped from a work release center May 25.

He’s already pleaded not guilty to robbery and attempted kidnapping charges. Prosecutors will be seeking an exceptionally long sentence.

Past coverage:

June 1: Carjacking suspect has history with ‘Cops’

Carjacking suspect has history with ‘Cops’

A felon who escaped from a work release center is accused of a gunpoint carjacking and armed bank robbery Friday in Spokane. 

Brian E. Gorder, 32, already is well known to police. In 2007, he led officers and a “Cops” camera crew on a high-speed chase that saw a police cruiser catch fire.

Now Gorder is due in Superior Court today on charges related to an alleged crime spree that ended with his arrest by U.S. marshals on Saturday. Gorder is believed to have stolen a 2008 Buick Lucerene at gunpoint Thursday in the K-Mart parking lot on North Division, then robbed a bank and shoplifted from several stores.

U.S marshals arrested his girlfriend, Meagen P. Meyers, 29, that day after she escaped from the Eleanor Chase House on April 29, then learned on Friday Gorder was allegedly responsible for the carjacking.

Gorder also was identified as a suspect in an armed robbery Friday at Washington Trust Bank, 3810 N. Maple, in which the stolen Lucerene was used as the getaway vehicle.

Federal agents spotted Gorder driving southbound on Division near the Northtown Mall at 12:45 a.m., but Gorder fled a traffic stop.

A Spokane police K-9, Duke, found him hiding in a maple tree. Gorder’s past convictions include theft of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude, residential burglary, obstructing police and possession of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced to 37 months in prison for charges related to the September 2007 “Cops” chase and was at the Brownstone Work Release Center when he allegedly absconded on Tuesday.

In 2004, Gorder was involved in a chase that included an officer firing rounds at his vehicle’s tires. He told the newspaper he needed help overcoming his addiction to methamphetamine.

“I’m not a bad person,” he said at the time. “The issue is I have a drug problem. Once I get going on this stuff, I do things I normally wouldn’t do.”

Read the story from January 2004 here.

Serial robber suspected in latest holdup

Federal investigators believe a serial robber is responsible for a bank hold-up on the South Hill Tuesday that locked down two schools.

“It’s almost certainly going to be the same individual,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill.

  The gunman robbed U.S. Bank, 621 E. 30th Ave., about 11:30 a.m. Sacajawea Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School were locked down for about an hour.

FBI agents believe the robber may be fleeing the banks on a bicycle, but he may have other transportation also, Harrill said.

The robber is first believed to have struck Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd., then Feb. 13 and April 19 at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd. (The Feb. 13 robbery is pictured.)

Then on May 18, the gunman wore a motorcycle helmet and forced an employee at Chase Bank, 3007 E. 57th Ave., to the floor at gunpoint.

Witnesses in at least one of the robberies said the man appeared to be familiar with how banks operate and knew which cash drawers to request.

Investigators aren’t sure if the knowledge possible is from bank experience or criminal experience, “but we’ll find out,” Harrill said.

The robber is described as white, 6-feet tall, in his 30s with a thin-to-medium build and fair complexion.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

Past coverage and photos:

May 19: Serial robber suspect in bank holdups

March 4: Police: Man robbed 2 banks in 2 months

FBI: Serial robber suspected in bank holdups

A man who targeted Chase Bank on Tuesday may be a serial robber responsible for three other holdups at two banks since December.

 The FBI is investigating the robberies, which began Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd. Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd, was robbed Feb. 13 and April 19.

  In each of those robberies, the gunman wore a mask and a hooded jacket, though a different one each time. 

In Tuesday’s robbery, the culprit wore a motorcycle helmet and forced an employee to the ground at gunpoint.

The man is described as white, 6-feet tall, in his 30s with a thin-to-medium build and fair complexion. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

Photos of the Tuesday’s robbery and the robbery on April 19 are posted.

For photos of the Feb. 13 and Dec. 22 robberies, check out this post from March 4:  Police: Man robbed 2 banks in 2 months

Bank robbery suspect: Voices made me do it

A man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane bank told police voices in his head told him to commit the crime, according to court documents prepared by detectives.

It’s not the first time David D. Thometz, 47, has blamed crimes on the voices. He was sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008 and telling investigators a voice in his head named Jack told him to do it, according to court records.

Thometz remains in jail on $50,000 bond after a security officer at Sterling Savings Bank, 11 N. Wall St., detained him until police arrived Tuesday. Thometz was trying to leave with stolen cash after he handed a teller a threatening note about 9:20 a.m., police said.

Police recovered the stolen money and say Thometz had an additional $400 in his wallet. Thometz also had a knife in his pocket but did not display or mention it during the robbery, police said.

Thometz told police “the voices in his head had been telling him to rob a bank and he had been dreaming of committing the robbery for three weeks,” according to court documents.

After Spokane police Detective Tim Madsen read Thometz his rights, Thometz said he understand then said, “What the hell, go for it,” according to the documents. “Thometz stated he wanted to talk to Det. Madsen and he realized an attorney would tell him not to. Thometz stated that he had been through this before when he was arrested for arson.”

Thometz then asked for a lawyer after the audio recording began and the interview ended.

Do you recognize this bank robber?

A man robbed a bank inside an east Spokane grocery store today.

The robber pictured above entered the Banner Bank at Safeway, 933 E. Mission, about 5:26 p.m. and left with cash.

He’s described as 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-8 and wore a dark, puffy Carhart jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

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