Northwest NEWS

October 19, 1998

Local News

Kenmore man arrested for bank robberies


The FBI believes this is a photo of the suspect Randall Fernstad.

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   He was an enigma, a calm, collected fellow in sunglasses and baseball cap who robbed banks about once a week this summer.
   He struck in Kingsgate, Totem Lake, Juanita and Bothell, and after leaving one Redmond bank without any money hit another blocks away within minutes. His face was posted in newspapers and on television, and he even had two nicknames.
   The FBI now believes they have that man in custody, Randall S. Fernstad, a 30-year-old Kenmore man. He was arrested Oct. 10 at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn.
   FBI Agent Robbie Burroughs said a tip led authorities to identifying Fernstad as their suspect. A federal warrant was issued for his arrest Oct. 9 and his photo distributed to law enforcement and casinos.
   Dubbed the "baseball-cap" bandit for his trademark hat, and the "yuppie" robber for his "cool and relaxed style," he is suspected of robbing over a dozen banks in three counties this summer.
   Burroughs said his m.o. was to show up wearing a cap, sunglasses and a three to four-day growth of beard, stand in line then approach a teller with a white, legal-sized envelope. A note inside the flap would usually say "I have a gun, give me all the money," she said.
   She said he was generally quiet, and though he implied a weapon, one was never seen.
   Officers suspected the robber lived locally. One bank that was hit is just blocks from a Kenmore address Fernstad gave during booking, and another is within two miles.
   Reportedly, the arrest came after security at the Muckleshoot Casino was asked to help an intoxicated man who couldn't find his car. A supervisor recognized Fernstad, and tricked him by offering to call a cab. Instead, Auburn police came and arrested him.
   A Ford matching the description of a car seen leaving an Oct. 2 Kent robbery was also found in the casino parking lot.
   "Our experience with some people who rob banks is they are gambling," Burroughs said. She said Fernstad matched the suspect seen in 15 bank surveillance tapes.
   Because his alleged spree took place in different counties, he will be charged in U.S. District Court, Burroughs said. She said robbing banks is a federal crime, but isn't always prosecuted at that level.
   A grand jury of 23 men and women had yet to return an indictment of Fernstad as of last Thursday. Reportedly, a judge ordered Fernstad held without bail between court hearings.