Brandon Reuter
Brandon Reuter

REDDING, Calif. -- An alleged bank robber who died in a fusillade of bullets Monday in northern California has been identified as a 20-year-old former University of Colorado student.

Brandon Michael Reuter, of Los Gatos, Calif., was shot by five police officers in Redding after he took $3,000 at gunpoint from a bank teller Monday afternoon, authorities said. Authorities said police fired more than 30 rounds at Reuter after he threatened them with what turned out to be a BB gun.

In Boulder, Reuter was arrested by CU police in March 2008 on suspicion of stealing $30,000 in electronics -- including 80 iPods valued at $22,200 -- from the university bookstore. Reuter, then 18, was a freshman at the school.

Police in Boulder said most of the stolen goods were later found in his dorm room. According to court records, Reuter pleaded guilty to felony burglary and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, time served.

On Monday, Shasta County Sheriff's Capt. Dave Compomizzo said, Reuter was in the jaws of a Redding police dog that was trying to subdue him, swinging wildly at the animal with the BB gun in an effort to escape, according to an account in the Redding Record-Searchlight.

"At that time, he basically leveled the gun at the officers," and the officers opened fire with their service handguns, Compomizzo said.

Reuter's gun looked like a 9 mm handgun, authorities said.

The field of fire was less than a block from an elementary school.

Michelle Benson, 39, of Redding, was outside the DMV waiting for her son to take his driving test when she heard the officers' guns go off.

"It all happened so fast," she told the Record Searchlight. "I heard 'boom boom boom' and the whistling" as the bullets went by. The DMV instructor yelled out, 'Get down,' and we all hit the ground."

She said she saw the shot-out window of a Jeep hit by one of the stray bullets. If someone had been inside, he or she probably would have been hit, she told the newspaper.

"It went right through the passenger-side window and out the back," Benson said. "It was unbelievable."

Authorities said Reuter, who was wearing aviator-style sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt, had robbed the Plumas Bank just before 4 p.m. by pointing a gun at a teller and demanding cash.

Reuter said he "would start shooting" if he didn't get the money, Compomizzo said.

An officer nearby spotted Reuter running into the bathroom of an auto shop and car wash. Other officers responded and tried to surround Reuter, who exited the bathroom and ran west back toward the bank, Compomizzo said. Then the police dog was sent in to take down the robber.

When the dog did his job, it allowed officers to get close enough to him to see that he appeared to have a gun.

Investigators served a search warrant on his motel room in town and found practice demand notes for other businesses in town the suspect apparently planned to rob, Compomizzo said.

Reuter arrived in Redding a few days ago on a Greyhound bus, Compomizzo said. He had prior run-ins with the law as well as a history of mental illness, Compomizzo said.



A Redding, Calif., police officer describes the shooting