Shelton, WA (1-29-15) — Natalie Johnson reported Eric M. Collier of Shelton was arrested and charged in Thurston County (1-23-15) w/23 felony counts alleging/relating to armed robberies including banks and restaurants, perhaps most notably the Pizza Time in Thurston. He was arrested Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2014 after a massive investigation by numerous cooperating local and federal law enforcement agencies (Olympia PD, Pierce County Sheriff, Puyallup PD, Thurston County Sheriff, Kent PD, & the FBI) into the crimes alleged. They (courtesy of the Olympia PD) include the following:
Robberies Collier is accused in:
Sept. 20: Olympia Taco Bell is robbed. $15 and one cell phone reported stolen.
Sept. 20: Olympia Bank of America is robbed. $13,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 14: Olympia Pizza Time is robbed. $35 reported stolen.
Oct. 20: Olympia Pizza Time is robbed. Between $700 and $800 reported stolen.
Oct. 22: Spanaway Pizza Time is robbed. Between $500 and $1,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 27: Puyallup Pizza Time is robbed. Between $800 and $1,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 29: Kent Domino’s Pizza is robbed. $400 reported stolen.
Nov. 1: Thurston County Pizza Time is robbed, and suspect fires his gun.
Nov. 1: Spanaway Pizza Time is robbed. $500 reported stolen.
Nov. 26: Olympia Umpqua Bank is robbed. $10,000 reported stolen.
Dec. 3: Spanaway Umpqua Bank is robbed. $5,500 reported stolen.
Dec. 9: Spanaway Heritage Bank is robbed. $17,566 reported stolen.
Dec. 26: Olympia Federal Savings Bank is robbed. $9,935 reported stolen.
Jan. 6: Tacoma Umpqua Bank is robbed. $5,600 reported stolen.
Jan. 10: Lacey Columbia Bank is robbed. $6,654 reported stolen.
Jan. 20: Attempted robbery at Olympia Federal Savings Bank. Collier is arrested
The Olympian reported, according to court documents, Collier, a 35-year-old Shelton man (previously resided on Boston Harbor Rd. near Olympia) was accused of stealing about $60,000 in a string of Puget Sound bank and pizza restaurant robberies was arrested Tuesday night after a months-long investigation.
Eric M. Collier was caught by the Olympia Police Department as he was allegedly attempting to rob yet another bank while armed. The 35-year-old Shelton man was booked into the Thurston County Jail on seven counts of first degree robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and two counts of first-degree attempted robbery.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Thompson said the nine counts of robbery and attempted robbery cover crimes committed in Thurston County. Other charges may be filed in other counties.
The crime spree began Sept. 20 when Collier is suspected of robbing a west Olympia Taco Bell and a Bank of America, according to the Olympia Police Department. Since then, 14 similar robberies were reported at places throughout Thurston and Pierce counties, including Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup, Tacoma, Spanawayand Kent.
Thompson said that in all his years as a deputy prosecutor, he’s never seen a defendant face so many robbery charges. At a Thurston County Superior Court hearing Wednesday, he asked Judge Anne Hirsch to set bail at $2 million.
“Just the sheer number, I’ve never seen a defendant come into the court with this many robberies,” Thompson said.
Hirsch agreed that Collier posed a significant threat to the safety of the community and set bail at $1 million. If Collier posts bail, he’ll need to appear in court to establish other conditions of release.
Olympia officers found two guns when they arrested Collier: One was loaded and on his person, and the other was found in his car, Thompson said. The gun found in the car was reported stolen in the 1980’s.
“That suggests that he has access to firearms that are not legally tracked,” Thompson said.
The Olympia Police Department gave the following account of the events leading to Collier’s arrest:
During all but one of the robberies, the suspect displayed a handgun, wore a mask and had a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. In a November robbery, the suspect fired his gun during a struggle with a Pizza Time employee. No one was injured.
Detectives and analysts from multiple agencies — Olympia Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Puyallup Police Department, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Kent Police Department and the FBI — began investigating the robberies together in October, piecing together information from the various robberies.
An Olympia officer noticed a suspicious dark sedan driving slowly through a west Olympia bank parking lot. The officer lost sight of the vehicle in heavy traffic. About 30 minutes later, Columbia Bank in Lacey was robbed at gunpoint.
Officers learned that the license plate of the suspicious vehicle didn’t match the car. The sedan was seen again at local banks.
On 1-10-15, detectives identified a gray sedan believed to belong to the robbery suspect.
Officers soon learned the sedan’s license plates weren’t registered to any vehicles, but were traded in and resold at the Olympia Auto Mall. Later that month (1-20-15), detectives spotted what they believed to be the same grey sedan and followed it to a house in Shelton. When the driver pulled out of his garage a short time later, detectives noticed the car had switched license plates.
After detectives followed the vehicle to a residence in Shelton, then to a bank in West Olympia, Collier was arrested while walking from the car to the bank. Police claim he was wearing similar clothing to that worn at the previous robberies and he was armed. Eric Collier was booked into Thurston County Jail on suspicion of 8 counts of 1st degree robbery, but it appears many more counts may be lodged against the defendant after further investigation is completed as he is suspected of robberies in Pierce and King counties.
Thurston County Jail data:
Eric Michael Collier
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