Northwest NEWS

February 4, 2002

Events

'Bash' burglar suspected in Jan. 25 holdup

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   According to a King County Sheriff's Office report, at 5:36 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, a white male in his early 30s entered the King County Credit Union, located at 17601 140th Ave. NE, Woodinville. He was wearing a black ski mask, a black baseball cap, a black nylon coat and red running pants. The man ran up to the first teller window carrying a brown paper shopping bag in one hand and a handgun in the other. He jumped over the counter and ordered the teller and the other two cashiers to give him the money in the drawers. The tellers emptied the drawers and the man said, "All of it," as if to let the tellers know he expected the drawers to be cleaned out completely.
   Noticing a customer at the drive-through window, he told a teller to take care of it. The teller told the woman driver that she could not take any deposits because of an emergency. According to police reports, the woman driver drove off and called 9-1-1.
   When police arrived, they secured the crime scene. They also called for a K9 unit and a helicopter. The helicopter arrived first. An officer on board with an infrared camera scanned the wooded area behind the bank. Nothing was detected. The K9 unit started a track from the south side bank doors. It ended at the Taco Time parking lot, several feet away.
   Deputies interviewed the three tellers, a woman who was sitting at her desk across from the tellers' counters, and the customer at the drive-through window. There were no customers inside the building at the time of the robbery.
   The Puget Sound Violent Crimes Task Force, sponsored by the FBI, has taken over the investigation. They believe, according to FBI Agent Robbie Burroughs, based on the robber's modus operandi and the dress and look of the suspect, that the so-called "Bash Bandit" may be their man. The "Bash Bandit" is thought to be responsible for eight robberies in Burien, Bellevue, Kenmore Lynnwood - and now Woodinville - since March of 2000.
   The moniker "Bash Bandit" came about because on three occasions the bandit used heavy objects to smash through windows or doors to gain access to banks just after closing. In a fourth such attempt he tried to break into a bank by hurling a car battery at the glass entry while employees watched from inside. After several unsuccessful attempts to break the glass, he gave up, leaving the battery behind.
   But "He hasn't 'bashed,'" said Agent Burroughs, "at every robbery."
   In each of the robberies, however, he has been armed with a semiautomatic pistol. He has ordered the bank employees to gather the money for him, though in some cases he has entered the bank vault himself. He has also "struck" at or around the end of the day in most cases, said Burroughs.
   In one robbery he was seen getting into a red 1980s Jeep Comanche pickup truck, driven by a slender white male accomplice. According to a description released by Charles E. Mandigo, special agent in charge of the Seattle Division of the FBI, the "Bash Bandit" has been described as a white male in his 20s or 30s, 5'10" to 6' tall, 160 to 180 pounds with dark hair. He usually wears a dark baseball hat, a windbreaker jacket or hooded sweatshirt, a scarf covering his face, gloves and nylon breakaway pants.
   Wells Fargo Bank and Washington Mutual Bank have jointly offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the robber and his accomplices. The man should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Seattle office of the FBI, 24 hours a day, at (206) 622-0460.