By Mike Henneke
REXBURG – At first Grayson Sabin thought the chilling words behind him were part of a drill.
He was in line to cash a check inside the East Idaho Credit Union on Wednesday, when he heard a male voice behind him say the following that he won’t soon forget.
Sabin, 24, a communications student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, turned to see a short, stocky man wearing a black coat with a hood, baggy jeans and a black ski mask. In his hands, held an AK-47 full automatic weapon.
The masked man took a couple of steps toward Sabin and pointed the assault weapon with its distinctive drum magazine directly at Sabin.
“If you move, I’ll shoot you,” Sabin recalled the masked man saying.
This wasn’t a drill, but something much more serious.
More than 24 hours later after Wednesday’s armed robbery in Rexburg, Sabin recounted details from the terrifying minutes inside the credit union — from a manager and employees who acted calm under pressure to the masked man FBI now believes is the AK-47 Bandit, a serial bank robber responsible for numerous robberies in at least three states.
Sabin told what happened that Wednesday afternoon one more time, even while admitting he’s grown weary telling it over and over again to his friends.
“It’s probably a story I’m going to tell my whole life,” Sabin said by phone Thursday night.
It was shortly before 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday when Sabin parked his Jeep near the East Idaho Credit Union on Grand Loop in Rexburg. He told a friend he planned to run in and cash a check and asked her to wait outside in the Jeep.
He took his place in line and was next to approach a teller when the masked man walked in, uttering the words heard by Sabin.
The time was 4:19 p.m.
With his hands in the air, Sabin moved to the side and watched as the masked man walked around to clean out cash from each teller station.
In the bank with Sabin were a father with two small children, a Hispanic adult male customer, the branch manager and three or four tellers.
Once he was done, the robber ordered the bank manager to get all the money from the back of the vault.
As he waited, Sabin sensed the man in the ski mask had done this before, by the way he carried himself and the strict time schedule he was following.
“He was definitely a professional,” Sabin said.
As the bank manager continued to retrieve the money from the vault, the robber became agitated over the time delay, at one point angrily pounding his fist against a glass door.
As he waited, the robber talked to the people in the room about a previous robbery in California and how he had shot a police officer.
As the bank manager brought the money back from the vault, Sabin said the masked man inspected the money before ordering everybody at gunpoint into the vault.
Once everybody was inside the vault, Sabin said the man known as the AK-47 Bandit swung the vault door shut.
The large vault door slammed shut and then bounced open just a little. Sabin said the masked man immediately ran off leaving them in the vault.
After a minute or so, the branch manager and Sabin checked to make sure the outside was safe before everybody exited the vault.
The time was just after 4:30 p.m. He walked outside and told the girl he just met two days earlier what happened. Sabin asked her to take his Jeep back to his apartment, knowing he would be tied up with law enforcement for the next several hours.
The next few minutes were a blur, bank employees locking the bank with everybody inside, police surrounding the bank with heavy weapons and clearing everybody inside.
More than two hours later, Sabin and others were allowed to go free.
As for the check he planned to cash on Wednesday? Sabin had to return to the Rexburg branch on Thursday to cash it where he relived the experience with several bank employees, now very much friends with him.
Sabin won’t soon forget what happened on Wednesday, especially having an AK-47 style weapon pointed directly at him.
“Having one pointed at me was quite a traumatic experience,” Sabin said.