Olympia Detectives arrested Shelton resident Eric M. Collier on Tuesday for eight counts of first degree robbery, and they suspect he may have been involved in as many as sixteen robberies in a crime spree dating back to September of last year. The heists spanned much of the South Sound; including Lacey, Puyallup, Tacoma and Kent.
During all but one of the robberies the suspect displayed a handgun, wore a mask and had a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. According to reports the suspect robbed primarily Pizza Time businesses until late November. On November 26th, the Umpqua Bank located on the Westside of Olympia was held up at gunpoint by a lone gunman matching the prior robberies. Since then the suspect is believed to have committed an additional five armed bank robberies.
According to reports from Olympia Police Dept. their office began working alongside other local law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, last October to begin a series of surveillance details at regional banks. During one such detail at one of Olympia’s Westside Banks, Detective Bryan Houser and Officer Jason Watkins from the Olympia Police Department noted a suspicious vehicle and were able to capture a license plate on a grey sedan that was slowly rolling through the parking lot. About 30 minutes after losing sight of the vehicle the Columbia Bank, located in the Lacey area, was robbed at gunpoint.
When the sedan was next spotted it was reported to have a switched plate that was not currently registered to another vehicle.
On Tuesday Detectives followed the gray sedan to a residence in the Shelton area. The driver remained there for a brief period of time, then left heading back to the Olympia Area. Detectives noted the vehicle had switched license plates from the time the driver pulled into the residence's garage for the trip back to the Olympia Area. Detectives continued to follow the suspect to the Westside of Olympia, where the driver began circling around local banks.
Just prior to closing hours at the Olympia Federal Bank, on the Westside of Olympia, Collier parked away from the building, at a location which a police K-9 had tracked to during a December 26th robbery at the same bank. This seems to indicate that the perpetrator of the December theft, believed to also be Collier, may have spent time at the same location during that event as well.
When Detectives at the bank observed the subject exit his vehicle and start moving to the front door, wearing similar items to those worn in previous robberies, they quickly took him into custody. This likely not only prevented the bank from being robbed, but did so without any escalation of force despite confirmation that he was armed at the time of the arrest.
Adam J. Click, KMAS News - January 21, 2015