'Western Bandit' sought for several violent robberies, murder


LAPD created a special task force to hunt down the so-called "Western Bandit." At least nine crimes occurred along an eight-mile stretch near Western Avenue from Hollywood to South Los Angeles.

The suspect usually attacks between 9:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. The incidents began in November 2011, and the most recent crime happened on Oct. 10.

"This guy is a very violent robbery suspect," said LAPD Lt. John Radtke.

Nathan Vickers was murdered on Nov. 17, 2011. Investigators say he was transgender, so at the time, they thought his death might be a hate crime. But now, they suspect Vickers was killed during a robbery attempt by the "Western Bandit."

On that same night, police say the suspect also shot a woman through her car window on the corner of 7th Street and Kingsley Drive. He snatched her purse and fled.

"This guy tends to go for his firearm and shoot at the victims immediately," Radtke said.

The man has been described as black, Hispanic or Middle Eastern. He is between 35 and 45 years old and about 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall. He has a stocky build and usually wears dark clothing. In some of the crimes, he was seen riding a bicycle.

Detectives are also searching for a suspect who has been targeting 7-Eleven stores. He's wanted in connection with at least eight robberies in the last two months. In one incident, he was caught on surveillance video.

Authorities say he looks like the "Western Bandit," but at this point, they are treating both cases separately.

The suspects in both cases are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information was asked to call LAPD's West Bureau Homicide at (213) 382-9470 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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