CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — The man known as the “I-4 bandit” went in front of a judge Wednesday afternoon.
David Ratcliff is accused of robbing several banks in the Tampa Bay area this month, including one in Clearwater Tuesday.
He spent time in federal prison for more than a dozen robberies in the 90s.
Wayne Bradford says he was working at a home in Belleair Beach Tuesday when he saw a man get in his truck. Police say that man was Ratcliff. Bradford says Ratcliff tried to start his truck.
“I’m like what’s going on here,” Bradford said. “So the guy is elbowing me, so I started punching him, and said get out my truck.”
Bradford says they started fighting and wrestling each other for a few minutes. He says what Ratcliff told him next blew him away.
“He went, I’m a bank robber, and I saw money coming out of his side and I’m like woah,” Bradford said.
Clearwater police officers and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies got to the neighborhood moments later. A K-9 eventually took Ratcliff down. Court documents say Ratcliff even bit the dog.
Clearwater Police say Ratcliff robbed the Wells Fargo on South Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater Tuesday.
Ratcliff, dubbed the “I-4 bandit”, was accused of robbing as many as 19 banks in the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas in the 90s
Police say he also robbed banks in Temple Terrace and Saint Petersburg earlier this month. Bradford says he’s thankful, because he knows this could’ve ended differently.
“Maybe they need to keep him in prison, it’s stupid to rob banks, why are you doing that man,” Bradford said.
Ratcliff’s bond was set at $85,650.