Authorities found several explosive devices in the home of a Roundup man recently arrested for allegedly shooting at a Kansas State Trooper and crimes in several other states, said the Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.
Authorities are now investigating whether Richard Gathercole, who was arrested on June 20 in Nebraska, is the career criminal known as the “AK 47 Bandit.”
The AK 47 Bandit has been wanted by federal authorities since 2012 for a series of robberies carried out with an AK 47 assault rifle in North Bend, WA, Vacaville, CA, Chino, CA, Sacramento, CA, Rexburg, ID and Nebraska City, NE.
During the robbery in Chino, the suspect shot a police officer. The officer survived.
"My understanding is that during the bank robberies he was ruthless," said Musselshell County Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik.
The infamous robber, who committed the robberies while wearing tactical gear, was never caught and the FBI was offering a $100,000 reward for the man’s arrest.
Over the weekend, the Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office assisted the FBI, Chino California Police Department and Rexburg Idaho Police Department in executing a search warrant at Gathercole’s Roundup residence.
Several Improvised Explosive Devices were located in the home and the Billings Police Department bomb squad was called in to remove the IEDs, according to a Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Gathercole was arrested last week near Lexington, Neb. for allegedly shooting at law enforcement in Sherman County in Kansas with an AK-47, according to the search warrant filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Billings.
The Kansas trooper was attempting to stop Gathercole for having obstructed registration when Gathercole allegedly pulled out an AK-47 and shot at the trooper while driving.
Gathercole later crashed the vehicle he was driving and stole a pickup truck from a citizen, according to the federal search warrant.
Gathercole was transported to the Dawson County jail, where he was found to have a fake ID.
Law enforcement also recovered a homemade explosive device from the crashed vehicle, which matched a device left at a bank during a 2015 robbery.
The alleged shooting at a Kansas State Trooper happened exactly one week after Gathercole was arrested in Musselshell County for drunk driving.
He made his initial appearance in justice court and posted bail, according to the sheriff’s office.
But according to Lesnik, Gathercole was an otherwise quiet resident of Roundup.
"Everyone in town says 'oh he was just polite and nice,'" said Lesnik. "That was pretty much his M.O. here."
Gathercole is in police custody and authorities do not believe there is any present danger to the community.
The investigation is on-going and additional information will be provided by the FBI, according to the Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office.
The Chino Police Chief and Rexburg Police Chief were not immediately available for comment.