Could 'Assault Gun Bandits' strike again?
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 08:42:14 AM EST
The Assault Gun Bandits, nicknamed for the heavy firepower they use in bank robberies, have been investigated by authorities since late 2004.
Two suspects in the group have been arrested and one was shot and killed, but authorities believe there is a possibility others in the crew are laying low.
FBI agent Rick Brodsky told Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin the dangerous group of bandits is known for bursting into banks, taking over, and holding hostages.
"We have a group of faceless, scary guys that are terrorizing the community," said Brodsky.
During the gang’s heyday, Brodsky headed up the South Florida Violent Crimes Task Force, the multi-agency group charged with catching the crooks.
“This group appears to be more organized than your typical bank robbers,” said Brodsky. “They’re highly structured, using military tactics during the commission of these robberies and we believe they have a strong propensity for violence.”
Investigators believe the gang knocked off a dozen banks in South Florida between 2004 and 2007, getting away with nearly $1 million dollars. The bank robbers carry AK-47s, Tech-9s, and AR-15 Assault Rifles, authorities say.
A woman identified as ‘Maria’ said she witnessed their violence up close.
"They're going to hurt somebody bad. They're going to kill somebody,” said Maria.
Maria told Local 10 about one of the robberies she witnessed inside a bank.
“I'm talking to the teller and all of a sudden two guys walk in, one with a big gun and one with a small gun,” said Maria.
She was withdrawing money to pay her college tuition when the masked men forced her to the floor.
"For a minute, you're in shock. You never think you're going to be at the opposite end of a gun until it happens,” said Maria.
It was a frightening four minutes for Maria, and an ordeal that forever changed her life. Maria was pregnant at the time, and said she had a miscarriage just hours after the robbery.
“I lost my baby. The baby’s heart had stopped beating. I just kind of shook my head and let it sink in for awhile – and then I started crying. I just hope these guys get caught,” said Maria.
In 2007, moments after a bank was hit in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Sheriff’s deputies caught up with two of the men. 25-year-old Joshua Beasley was shot and killed by deputies when he tried to grab one of the officers’ guns, deputies said. His younger brother, Brandon Beasley, was shot when he reached into a moneybag from the bank, retrieved a rifle and turned it on a deputy, authorities said.
In 2011, their older brother, Stanley Beasley, whom agents believe may have been affiliated the group, was shot during a fatal robbery at a check cashing store near Fort Lauderdale, deputies said.