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Felony Charge Filed Against Suspect in 'Desperate Bandit' Bank Robberies

A felony charge was filed today against a 47-year-old man who may be the ‘Desperate Bandit,’ blamed for nine bank robberies in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Indio police arrested Michael Patrick Downing, 47, of Chino Hills after a bank robbery in that city Friday.

“A FirstBank branch at 82900 Avenue 42 was robbed after a man approached the teller with a note demanding money”, Indio police said in a written statement. According to investigators, after the man exited the bank, he drove from the parking lot in a white colored Toyota Corolla with an undisclosed amount of money. Indio police radioed the car’s description and an officer later observed a vehicle matching that description on westbound 1-10, about a mile west of the bank.

A patrol car followed the vehicle another four miles until back-up units arrived and then pulled the car over. The driver, Downing, was arrested.

Investigators found a two-liter plastic bottle filled with clear liquid and suspicious wiring during a search of Downing’s car. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department sent out its Hazardous Device Team to determine whether the device was a bomb. After inspection the device was determined to be inert.

FBI officials suspected Downing might be connected to the nine other ‘Desperate Bandit’ robberies that occurred over the past year in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties because of the nature of the crime and Downing’s physical description.

In Orange County, the desperate bandit has been blamed for bank robberies in Tustin, La Habra, Anaheim Hills, Fullerton and Placentia.

The robber was given the nickname by the FBI after describing himself as desperate in one of the notes passed to a bank teller.

Investigators allege that Downing admitted he committed several other bank robberies in Southern California and say they are “99.99 percent” certain that Downing is the “Desperate Bandit” bank robber.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an attorney who can help you fight the charges.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California, focusing on criminal and employment law.

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