It sounds like a story out of the Old West: a man robs three banks in eight days – then disappears while police try to track him down. When they do, they learn he was mentored by a man who is on federal probation for prior bank robbery convictions.
That's what Spokane Police and records from the Spokane County Courthouse show recently happened.
Police say Scott Ruziecki, 40, is behind the robberies of the Banner Bank inside Safeway in Hillyard on August 9th, the U.S. Bank inside Albertsons on Trent on August 12th, and the Banner Bank inside Safeway near Gonzaga University on August 16th.
Other than a 2012 case for trafficking stolen property, Ruziecki has no criminal history in Washington.
So how did he do it? Police say Charles West, 50, helped him. Described as Ruziecki's mentor, court records show West has a criminal history of robbing banks.
"[Ruziecki] described Mr. West as showing him how to do this and describing bank robberies as very easy and that his chances of getting caught are very low," Spokane Police Lt. Mark Griffiths said.
His run finally ended after a woman called in a tip Wednesday, leading police to West – the man they say drove the get-a-way car in the first two robberies.
Their investigation lead to Ruziecki's associates and possible places he may be. When police saw him at a home under surveillance Monday night on South Arthur, they moved in. After a 3-hour SWAT standoff, he gave himself up.
"I think he was very brazen and didn't think it through," Griffiths added. "He underestimated the surveillance and was very bold this week."
Court records show Ruziecki dyed his hair after police released surveillance photos to the public in an attempt to find him. Police heard he'd made statements that he would shoot police if confronted, and that he wasn't going to be taken down alive. But in the end, no gun was found when he was arrested.
Ruziecki's now in jail on $200,000 bail, and will back in court for an arraignment September 3rd.