A Vancouver teenager who held up a bank before turning a gun on a police officer told investigators his mission in the heist was either “suicide by cop” or to go to prison for a long time.
A judge on Friday spared Stephen A. Lubeck the long prison term, sentencing him to 55 months, or about 4-1/2 years in prison.
Initially facing 15 criminal charges, Lubeck, 19, agreed to plead guilty to first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Had he gone to trial, Lubeck could have faced a sentence between 10 and 14 years in prison. On the new charges, Lubeck's sentencing range was 46 to 61 months.
Before imposing the sentence, Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard heard from Lubeck’s attorney, Robert Vukanovich, that the teen had never before been in trouble, nor did he have substance abuse problems.
Vukanovich said his client was simply depressed the afternoon of Dec. 1, when he robbed a Wells Fargo branch near the Vancouver Westfield Mall and fled with $300,000 in cash. A Vancouver police officer, Jeffrey Anaya, confronted Lubeck near the Ross Dress For Less Store.
Armed with a BB gun that resembled a pistol, Lubeck told Anaya he would give him five seconds before shooting, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said. The officer then fired his gun three times, striking Lubeck once in the upper leg.
In previous court appearances, Lubeck sat in a wheelchair, but on Friday, he no longer needed a wheelchair.
Anaya has since been cleared of any criminal liability in the shooting.
Vu on Friday described the robbery as random. He told the judge that Lubeck and his older brother were fascinated with the Fox TV show, “Prison Break,” about two brothers who concoct a scheme to get one of them out of prison.
Vu said Lubeck’s brother, John, was convicted of a robbery in California last year before his younger brother’s Wells Fargo robbery and is currently serving a prison sentence.
The deputy prosecutor stopped short of calling that a motive, but said it perhaps highlights Lubeck’s thinking.
“In this case, it just baffles me why this happened,” Vu said.
After handing down the punishment, the judge asked Lubeck what psychologists who evaluated him had to say about the robbery.
Lubeck said they told him the next time he’s depressed to just have a bowl of ice cream.
The judge told him that was good advice. “I can’t imagine what was going through your mind that day,” Woolard said. “That’s a lot of high risk for some selfish reasons.”