'Western Bandit' suspect charged with capital murder, faces death penalty

ByAnabel Munoz and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
A police sketch of the Western Bandit suspect is shown in an undated photo.
A police sketch of the Western Bandit suspect is shown in an undated photo.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man suspected of being the "Western Bandit" was arrested and charged with capital murder and dozens of counts of attempted murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Monday.

Patrick Watkins, 51, was charged with two counts of murder, 26 counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of assault with a firearm, five counts of shooting at an occupied car, and four counts of second-degree robbery and felon in possession of a firearm.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said Watkins has a violent history during a press conference Monday afternoon. Mayor Eric Garcetti was also in attendance and spoke out against Watkin's suspected actions.

"In some ways just calling him a bandit doesn't begin to capture the fear and the actions of this man who is a cold-blooded killer," Garcetti said.

He is suspected of killing Nathan Vickers on Jan. 17, 2011 and Larise Smith on Dec. 8, 2014. Both charges carry special circumstances, which makes Watkins eligible for the death penalty.

Investigators said Watkins was linked to the series of crimes with the help of DNA evidence collected during a prior arrest.

The nickname "Western Bandit" comes from the series of armed robberies and shootings that happened along Western Avenue between November 2011 and November 2014.

Watkins is suspected of riding his bicycle up to people sitting in cars along the avenue. Authorities said he demanded cash or opened fire on occupants. In some cases, he is said to have approached people on foot and either robbed them or shot them.

The case remains under investigation with the LAPD.