Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 1:50 am | Fair 46º


Local News

Serial Bank Robber ‘Roscoe Bandit’ Admits to Hitting 2 Santa Barbara Banks, Authorities Say

Authorities have connected a serial bank robber, dubbed the "Roscoe Bandit" by the FBI, to two Santa Barbara bank robberies over the past 10 years. 

William Mitchell, 56, was arrested Nov. 8 in Oregon and the subsequent investigation revealed that he is the suspect of two armed bank robberies in the City of Santa Barbara, said Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department

Mitchell confessed to these crimes earlier this month, Harwood said. Mitchell, with his attorney, was interviewed by Seattle Police detectives, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and federal prosecutors on March 10, according to police.

He is the suspect in the Aug. 15, 2005 armed robbery at Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, at 220 Nogales Ave., and the Oct. 2, 2014 armed robbery at Community West Bank at 1501 State St., Harwood said.

William Mitchell (Seattle Police Department photo)

At the Santa Barbara Bank and Trust robbery, Mitchell "brandished a handgun at the employees, ordered them to the ground, stole several thousand dollars and fled the scene in a vehicle," Harwood said. That case was unsolved until Mitchell confessed, Harwood said. 

The Community West Bank robbery was similar, with Mitchell brandishing a handgun, stealing several thousand dollars and leaving the scene on a bicycle. A weapon was left at the scene and it was determined to be a replica gun, Harwood said.

The gun was processed for DNA evidence through the Combined DNA Index System database and Santa Barbara police were notified March 4 that the DNA on the gun was a match to Mitchell's profile, Harwood said. 

Mitchell is suspected of at least four bank robberies in Washington in 2014, according to the FBI. He was initially identified from security footage from a Nov. 7 bank robbery in Spokane, Washington. 

His use of a handgun in robberies led to the moniker, according to the FBI. "The apparently long-barreled revolver led investigators to give the bandit a nickname based on an early 19th century nickname for a handgun," the agency said in a statement. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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