The Montana man known as the “AK-47 Bandit” who robbed several banks in at least five states was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in federal prison.

Richard L. Gathercole, 41, was also ordered to serve five years of probation after his prison time and pay about $392,000 of restitution to his victims. He had pleaded guilty to bank robbery, brandishing a firearm and carjacking.

His violent crime spree spanned about six years until he was arrested in Lexington, Nebraska, after fleeing from authorities, shooting at them and carjacking a farmer in Kansas.

Gathercole was armed with an AK-47 when carrying out his bank robberies in Washington, Idaho, California, Nebraska and Iowa. During a robbery in California, he shot a Chino Police Department officer. A bullet struck the officer’s artery.

Gathercole also threatened bank employees with an explosive device, said he would hurt them if they didn’t wait long enough before calling police or locked them in the bank vault. He sometimes wore a bulletproof vest that said “Sheriff” or “Police.”

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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