News and Press Releases

Group Used Automatic Weapons, Military Precision in August 2006 Tacoma Bank Robbery

February 20, 2009

TIGRA ROBERTSON, 23, of Peachland, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 12 and a half years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Commit Armed Bank Robbery, Armed Bank Robbery, and Brandishing a machine gun during and in relation to a crime of violence. ROBERTSON is one of five men convicted of the August 7, 2006 robbery of the Bank of America branch on South Tacoma Way. Three of the defendants were members of an elite Army Ranger Unit based at Fort Lewis. ROBERTSON is one of two Canadians who traveled to Tacoma for the robbery. U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess imposed the sentence noting the dangerousness of the crime and the devastating impact on the tellers and others in the bank.

According to documents filed in the case, Army Ranger Luke E. Sommer, Canadian nationals, Tigra J.A. Robertson and Nathan R. Dunmall and Army Rangers Chad Palmer and Alex M. Blum to participate in the robbery. At a meeting the day before the robbery, Sommer provided the men with weapons including a loaded fully automatic AK-47 machine gun. The men wore soft body armor to protect themselves in case of a shoot-out with police.

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. ROBERTSON entered the vault, but was unable to grab anything because the team believed too much time had passed and they had to exit the bank. The men escaped with more than $50,000 from the teller drawers. 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.

In his sentencing memo, Assistant united States Attorney Mike Dion noted that ROBERTSON was a trusted side-kick to Luke Sommer who planned the robbery – in fact, ROBERTSON intended to embark on a life of crime and violence with Sommer in Canada. “One of the purposes of the robbery was to further Sommer's plan to start a crime family in Canada. Sommer planned to start a family that would extort money from businesses and would challenge the Hell's Angels for control of criminal activity in the Kelowna, British Columbia, area. Robertson had agreed to participate in the crime family and was assigned the rank of "captain" by Sommer. Sommer planned to buy several weapons for the family in anticipation of conflicts with the Hell's Angels,” Mr. Dion wrote in his sentencing memo.

In December 2008, Sommer was sentenced to 24 years in prison and Chad Palmer was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Blum and Dunmall are scheduled to be sentenced in March 2009.

The case was 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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