News and Press Releases

Group Used Automatic Weapons, Military Precision to Rob Tacoma Bank

December 7, 2006

CHAD PALMER, 21, of Norfolk, Virginia, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma today to Armed Bank Robbery and Brandishing a machine gun during and in relation to a crime of violence. PALMER is one of five men charged with the August 7, 2006 robbery of the Bank of America branch on South Tacoma Way. PALMER and two other defendants were members of an elite Army Ranger Unit based at Fort Lewis. Two additional Army Rangers have been charged in relation to the case. One illegally stored weapons for a conspirator, the other acted as a “consultant” on the robbery plot.

According to documents filed in the case, Army Ranger Luke E. Sommer recruited PALMER, Ranger Alex M. Blum, and Canadian nationals, Tigra J.A. Robertson and Nathan R. Dunmall to participate in the robbery. At a meeting the day before the robbery, Sommer provided PALMER with a loaded fully automatic AK-47 machine gun. Sommer provided other conspirators with loaded semi-automatic hand guns. The men wore soft body armor to protect themselves in case of a shoot-out with police. Sommer proposed that PALMER throw a hand grenade at the police if the police arrived during the robbery, but PALMER rejected this suggestion. Sommer told PALMER that he wanted to use the proceeds of the robbery to start a crime family to rival the Hell’s Angels in British Columbia, Canada.

The robbery occurred at 5:15 PM on August 7, 2006. The men entered the bank in black masks and military garb. Over the 90 seconds of the robbery the men ordered the tellers to turn over their money and open the vault. The men escaped with more than $50,000. An alert bystander spotted the license plate of the car the men used for their escape and reported it to the police. The car was traced to Fort Lewis where evidence of the crime was uncovered at the mens’ barracks.

Trial for the defendants, Tigra J.A. Robertson and Alex M. Blum, is scheduled for January 29, 2007. Defendants Luke E. Sommer and Nathan R. Dunmall are fighting extradition from Canada.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Dion and Jill Otake.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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