PITTSBURGH (AP) — An interstate bank robbery suspect nicknamed the Bucket List Bandit because he allegedly told a Utah bank teller he had only four months to live has been captured in Oklahoma, an FBI agent said Friday.
Michael Eugene Brewster, 54, was arrested Thursday night after a traffic stop in Roland, Okla., said Jason Crouse, the acting head of the FBI office in Erie, Pa. Crouse’s office is investigating a robbery in the northwestern Pennsylvania city earlier this week. He wouldn’t provide details of the arrest because the FBI planned a national announcement later in the day.
Erie FBI agents got a warrant for Brewster’s arrest earlier Thursday for robbing the Huntingdon National Bank branch in Erie, about 120 miles north of Pittsburgh, on Monday.
A confidential informant called to give agents Brewster’s name and birth date after recognizing his picture in media accounts of the robberies that began June 21 in Arvada, Colo., a Denver suburb, according to the warrant. The warrant doesn’t say how the person knew that information.
A teller at the Erie bank picked Brewster’s photo out of a lineup and authorities then reviewed surveillance video and found an “obvious likeness” to Brewster during nine prior robberies in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Pocatello, Idaho; Roy, Utah; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Bloomington, Ill.; Columbia and O’Fallon, Mo., and the Colorado heist. Photos from the various robberies show a man with grayish, thinning hair, generally combed or brushed backward, wearing glasses and what appears to be the same blue polo shirt with a front pocket.
Authorities have released few details of the robberies, beyond those that appear to link the heists and relate to his nickname, which derived from the July 6 robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank in Roy, Utah.
That’s where the suspect allegedly told the teller, “I have four months to live,” after passing her a note demanding money, Rebecca Wu of the FBI’s St. Louis office told the AP after the Missouri robberies in late August.
Roy Police Sgt. Danny Hammon said police don’t know the specific wording of the note because the suspect took it back. Investigators haven’t said whether they’ve confirmed if Brewster is even terminally ill.
Online federal court records don’t list an attorney for Brewster, who was expected to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Oklahoma City on Friday. He was being held in the city jail in Roland in the meantime, according to Assistant Police Chief David Goode.
Crouse, the FBI agent, didn’t say how authorities tracked Brewster to Oklahoma.
The warrant doesn’t identify his hometown, but indicates he’s wanted for borrowing a black Chevy Captiva from a woman in Pensacola, Fla. on June 11 and not returning it. The vehicle was similar to one described by witnesses at several of the robberies authorities think Brewster committed, but Crouse said the vehicle didn’t figure in to how authorities tracked down Brewster.
No one has been hurt in any of the robberies and officials aren’t saying how much money he’s gotten away with except for the $4,080 taken from the Erie bank, which was disclosed in the FBI arrest warrant.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.