US police arrest 'Granddad Bandit'

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The Independent US

The man dubbed the Granddad Bandit by the FBI and suspected in 25 bank robberies across 13 US states was captured at his home after a lengthy standoff that ended peacefully, authorities said.

Police and FBI agents surrounded the home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and nearly six hours later walked out with a stocky, balding man with greying hair and glasses, who was surrounded by officers and put into a police car.

The FBI identified him to the public 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.

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 downtown Richmond.

US Attorney Neil MacBride in the Eastern District of Virginia credited the billboards with helping catch Mara.

According to an FBI affidavit filed 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, eyeglasses and wristwatch were among the items that appeared to be identical between the photographs and surveillance footage, officials said.

It was unclear if the robber was actually a grandfather.

FBI agents said the nickname was devised to help law enforcement and the public easily identify the suspect.

"He just looks like everyone's granddad," FBI supervisory special agent Amanda Moran said last week.

In the robberies, the suspect waited patiently in line and handed the teller a note demanding a specific amount of money.

Sometimes, he made gestures indicating he had a weapon, although agents said there was no indication he ever actually used one. Once his demands were met, he exited quietly, fleeing on foot.