LINCOLN – The AK-47 Bandit entered guilty pleas Monday to a Nebraska City bank robbery and a Kansas carjacking.
In a plea agreement, lawyers will recommend a prison sentence of 30 to 35 years for 39-year-old Richard Gathercole.
US Attorney Lesley Woods said she does not expect other jurisdictions to pursue prosecution of a bank robberies at Iowa and Washington, shooting at a state trooper in Kansas in 2017, bank robbery and attempted homicide in 2012 in Chino, Calif., and the discovery of explosives at Gathercole’s home in Roundup, Mont.
The federal statute of limitations has expired in a robbery of an Idaho bank.
Woods described a June of 2017 incident where a Kansas State Trooper attempted a traffic stop on Gathercole, but he pointed an AK-47 style rifle out the window and started firing. Gathercole crashed the Toyota Camry he was driving. He admitted Monday that he then carjacked a pickup truck at gunpoint and drove it to Nebraska.
He was arrested near Lexington, Neb., when a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy recognized the pickup from a police bulletin.
Woods said ballistics from the AK-47 rifle linked the rifle to the robbery in San Bernadino County five years earlier, where he escaped by severely wounding a Chino police officer.
She said global positioning equipment told authorities where Gathercole’s car had been on Aug. 22, 2014, when he robbed the First Nebraska Bank at Nebraska City.
Gathercole told the court Monday that he used the AK-47 rifle to threaten employees. They were ordered into a vault.
Gathercole left the bank with $90,258, but dropped about $20,000 in the parking lot.
Woods said the government will be seeking restitution at sentencing on June 5.