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Bike-riding bank robbery suspect identified

Mon., Oct. 18, 2010, 5:30 p.m.

A 33-year-old man with no substantial criminal record appeared before a U.S. magistrate today, accused of robbing a north Spokane bank at gunpoint last week.

Lucas G. Woodard also is being investigated for a series of robberies that began in December and typically involved a masked gunman escaping on a bicycle.

He is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail after appearing in U.S. District Court Monday, where he is charged with armed bank robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The robbery charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison; the weapons charge carries a minimum seven years and a maximum sentence of life.

Family members declined comment after the hearing.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Woodard’s rental home at 410 E. High Drive today.

FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill said agents still are working to determine if Woodard is the bicycle-riding bank robber who struck at least six times since late December.

The robbery spree began on Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd., then continued Feb. 13 and April 19 at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd.

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

The Indian Trail branch of Spokane Teachers Credit Union was robbed on July 28, followed by a robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 7815 N. Division St., on Aug. 24. A similar robbery in Coeur d’Alene on Aug. 27 is not believed to be connected to the same man, according to the FBI.

Then on Oct. 14, the Washington Trust Bank at 1906 W. Francis Ave., was robbed at gunpoint of nearly $18,000, according to federal court documents. A Spokane police sergeant on his way home heard the call and cut off the suspect, who ran into the squad car with his bike. A gun flew across the street; Woodard was arrested at the scene.

The affidavit detailing the case against Woodard has been sealed after federal prosecutors cited the ongoing investigation.

A hearing to determine if Woodard can leave jail on bail is scheduled for Thursday. He’s represented by a federal public defender.

Woodard has a previous conviction for negligent driving when he was 20, records show. He’s worked as an operating engineer for Woodard Construction.

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