'Granddad bandit' held for US raids
The man dubbed the 'Granddad Bandit' by the FBI and suspected of over 25 bank robberies across 13 US states has been captured at his home after a lengthy stand-off.
Police and FBI agents surrounded the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home and nearly six hours later walked out with a stocky, balding man with grey hair and glasses, who was surrounded by officers and put into a police car. The FBI named him for the first time as 52-year-old Michael Francis Mara and arrested him on a warrant charging him with robbing a bank in Richmond, Virginia.
He is believed to have robbed banks all over the eastern and central U.S., including in Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Kansas, New York, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri - but not in Louisiana.
Last week, the FBI began posting pictures of the 'Granddad Bandit' on billboards across the country, saying he was connected to a string of robberies dating back to a 2008 holdup of a SunTrust Bank in Richmond. U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in the Eastern District of Virginia credited the billboards with helping catch Mara.
According to an FBI affidavit filed Friday in federal court in Virginia, the FBI received a tip last week from someone who identified Mara as the robber and gave authorities photographs to match to bank surveillance videos. A hat, glasses and a watch were among the items that appeared to be identical between the photographs and surveillance footage, officials said.
The documents say Mara had worked - and may still work - for a vehicle transportation company, giving him the ability to easily travel to other states. Earlier this year, Mara rented a rental car for 52 days and logged 9,669 miles, the affidavit says. During that time, three robberies in three different states were connected to the 'Granddad Bandit'.
Neighbor Gerry Hunt, a 65-year-old retired man, said Mara moved there when he married teacher Patsy, just over a year ago. Hunt said she did not see Mara much because he said he travelled for work, which he claimed was in disaster recovery.
"We really didn't know him. (His wife) would always say he was going out of town, and now that I think about it, everywhere he went, banks were robbed," Hunt said, listing trips to Tennessee and Arkansas among those she was told about.
Officials said Mara would be placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshal's Service and appear before a magistrate judge in Baton Rouge before being transferred to Virginia to face the federal charges. If convicted of the Virginia bank robbery, he faces 20 years in prison.