Investigators: Suspect mentored in bank robbery
A man arrested after a three-hour SWAT standoff may have looked up to a seasoned bank robber for guidance and a getaway, court documents say.
Scott E. Ruziecki, 41, was arrested Monday night on suspicion of robbing three Spokane banks this month.
Police believe Ruziecki was helped in the robberies by Charles D. West, 51, a local bank robber with an extensive criminal history. West is currently on federal probation for previous bank robbery convictions and drove Ruziecki from at least two of the banks, according to court documents.
Ruziecki told a Spokane County sheriff’s detective that West was his “mentor,” and “taught him how to” rob banks, the documents say. Ruziecki also called robbing banks “an easy way to make money,” Spokane police Lt. Mark Griffiths said at a Tuesday news conference.
In each case, Ruziecki handed the teller a note demanding money, Griffiths said. He did not appear to be armed, but the notes were threatening.
“Give me all loose bills, no dye pack, no bait money, no one gets hurt,” one note said, according to court documents.
Police and sheriff’s deputies say in the documents that they tracked Ruziecki and West by the getaway vehicle they used, a Chevy Astro van with distinctive black and white stripes.
Deputies arrested West on Aug. 13 after a witness called to report she’d seen Ruziecki at a drugstore. They found the Chevy Astro parked parked at a Quality Inn at 8923 E. Mission Ave., across the street from the drugstore. Deputies followed the van to West’s home, where they arrested him and found a large pile of cash on the driver’s seat.
Managers of the Quality Inn told deputies they’d rented two rooms for West and “some associates,” according to court documents.
Hotel management said there were some hair dye stains inside one room. Investigators say Ruziecki dyed his hair after his photo was circulated to local media.
Ruziecki surrendered at a home on the 600 block of South Arthur on Monday, after a 3-hour standoff. Ruziecki was with his girlfriend and a friend in the home, Griffiths said. Both left the house early in the confrontation.
Ruziecki faces three counts of first-degree robbery. West faces two counts of first-degree robbery and one of possession of methamphetamines. Ruziecki’s bail was set Tuesday at $200,000.
He also faces charges of second-degree theft and trafficking stolen property, accused of stealing and selling garden tools from the Somerset Meadows Apartments, where he worked on the maintenance staff.