Suspect in ‘Elephant Man’ bank robberies arrested

EVERETT — Police and the FBI believe they have caught the “Elephant Man Bandit” suspected in 30 bank robberies in the Puget Sound region in the past year.

The north Everett man is believed responsible for 16 bank jobs in Snohomish County since Feb. 5, 2013. The suspect, 44, was arrested Tuesday following a bank robbery in Seattle.

It turns out the Elephant Man Bandit, nicknamed for draping a piece of cloth over his face with two small eye holes, also is believed to be the “Cyborg Bandit.” That nickname comes from wearing a metallic-looking textured fabric over his face. Cyborgs are popular characters in science fiction with physical abilities enhanced by mechanical parts built into their bodies.

The suspect reportedly had been living off Broadway in Everett’s north end.

Several law enforcement agencies shared information during the investigation, Everett Police Chief Kathy Atwood said Wednesday.

“It was just a network of people coming together,” she said.

A witness to one of the robberies reported the bandit driving a blue Honda minivan with a sports insignia and a damaged side mirror, Atwood said.

Everett patrol officers spotted a vehicle matching that description late last week. They passed the information along to other agencies involved in the investigation and the van was placed under surveillance.

On Tuesday, the suspect got into the van and drove to Seattle. He circled the Key Bank on 25th Avenue NE in the University District.

Investigators watched him checking out the bank for about two hours. Just before 4:30 p.m., the man put on a mask and entered the bank. Agents with the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force were waiting for him when he walked out, and placed him under arrest. They then got a court’s permission to search his home.

The task force includes the FBI along with representatives from the Auburn, Bellevue and Seattle police departments as well as the King County Sheriff’s Office.

There were many other agencies involved in the investigation, including Bothell, Edmonds, Everett, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Shoreline police departments and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was a huge investigation,” FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said.

A key break in the case was spotting that blue van, Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell said.

“It’s really great police work by our officers out in the field,” Snell said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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