Los Angeles cops have arrested a man dubbed the “Western Bandit” who is accused of killing two people and robbing or assaulting 33 others in a nearly four-year alleged crime spree.
“He’s been terrorizing the streets, putting the public at risk and we’re glad that we have him in custody,” Los Angeles Police Department media relations officer Arreon Jefferson tells PEOPLE. “That way, the citizens of LA can be at peace and rest assured that the community is safer.”
Police allege that from November 2011 to December 2014, Patrick Watkins, 51, rode up to his victims on his bicycle and either demanded cash or opened fire, according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
In some cases, he would allegedly approach victims on foot and rob them or shoot them. Two were killed and six were wounded, police say.
Watkins is charged with the “special circumstance” murders of Nathan Vickers in 2011 and Larise Smith in 2014, which makes him eligible for the death penalty, police say.
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He faces a total of 53 charges, including murder and attempted murder along with assault, robbery and shooting, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
“We’ve been looking for this individual ever since the crime spree started in 2011,” Jefferson says.
Watkins was arrested on Thursday at his home. SWAT officers moved into the two-story apartment complex and Watkins surrendered, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Police said months would pass between the alleged attacks, causing police to question Watkins’ whereabouts, the Times reports. But investigators eventually linked the 51-year-old to the alleged series of crimes using DNA evidence collected during a prior arrest as well as the ballistics of the handgun he allegedly used.
Neighbors of Watkins described the 51-year-old as a generous man who played the bass and drums, and would often have jam sessions with the other tenants, the Times reports.
However, at a press conference on Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “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,” per ABC.
The case remains under investigation by the LAPD and prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.
It is unclear whether Watkins has entered a plea.