On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Enumclaw resident Gary Gookstetter, 79, walked into the Sound Credit Union on state Route 410 in Bonney Lake wearing a ski hat and carrying a replica pistol with the intent to rob the bank.
He succeeded, leaving the credit union with an undisclosed amount of money in hand but he didn’t make it far. Bonney Lake police officers were waiting outside for him as he exited the credit union and made his way to his vehicle that was parked right outside.
Sgt. Ron Sasaki was on a routine patrol driving through the parking lot of City Hall when word of the robbery came from dispatch.
“It was great timing for us, bad for him,” Officer Daron Wolschleger said. “Depending on how you look at it.”
According to the charging documents Gookstetter told the manager, “I want money. I don’t want to shoot.”
Gookstetter then handed the manager a sign that read “closed” and told her to put it on the door and lock the door.
After the manager did, Gookstetter pulled out two white garbage bags and told the staff to fill them with money.
The manager and another employee emptied the drawers into his bags and explained to him that one of them was locked, according to the charging documents.
Then he directed them to the safe but they told him that they could not access it.
According to the charging documents, Gookstetter told them to go into the bathroom and wait five minutes and not to make any phone calls.
In order to leave, the manager told Gookstetter that he would need a key to exit. After she gave him the key, he left and they remained in the bathroom.
A few moments later, employees looked out the window and saw Gookstetter was surrounded by officers.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue emergency personnel treated a minor cut near his eyebrow that Wolschleger said he obtained while on the ground.
Prior to be transported to the Pierce County Jail, he was taken to a near by hospital to make sure he had no other injuries, Wolschleger said.
Wolschleger credits the bank employees with doing “all the right things.”
He added, they were “calm, cool, collected and followed protocol.”
Gookstetter has had previous run ins with law enforcement but none in Bonney Lake, Wolschleger said.
It has been a while since Bonney Lake has had a “legit bank robbery,” he said.
He described ‘legit’ as one where a subject walks in, asks for money and leaves with some.
“We are happy how this one played out,” Wolschleger said. “We couldn’t have asked for it go any better.”
Gookstetter appeared in court Wednesday, Sept. 17 for his arraignment where he pleaded not guilty to robbery in the first degree.
Gookstetter was issued conditions of release Wednesday including posting $300,000 bail.
He also must stay at his residence in Enumclaw, keep in contact with his attorney and is not to operate a vehicle among other conditions.
At the time of press, he remains in custody at the Pierce County jail.