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Alleged Marin ‘Cotton Ball Bandit’ Charged With 10 Bank Robberies

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San Rafael police at the scene of a shooting following the chase of a bank robbery suspect on December 11, 2013. (CBS)

San Rafael police at the scene of a shooting following the chase of a bank robbery suspect on December 11, 2013. (CBS)

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SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — A man suspected of being the so-called “Cotton Ball Bandit” has been charged with committing 10 bank robberies in Marin County between December 2012 and December 2013, according to the district attorney’s office.

Christopher Jay Wootton, 60, of Larkspur, is also charged with attempted bank robbery, commercial burglary, evading police with reckless driving, two assaults with a firearm on a peace officer or firefighter, and carrying a loaded firearm.

Wootton did not enter a plea Friday when prosecutors filed an amended complaint against him that contains a total of 16 charges. A new court date has not yet been set.

The complaint also alleges that Wootton has previous convictions for burglary, forgery, conspiracy, kidnapping, grand theft and cultivation of marijuana.

Wootton was arrested after he allegedly robbed the Bank of the West branch on Grant Avenue in Novato on Dec. 11.

A Marin County sheriff’s deputy spotted the robber’s silver Saturn and followed it south on U.S. Highway 101 and onto San Rafael city streets until it crashed into a light pole on Las Gallinas Avenue near the Northgate Mall, San Rafael police said.

Wootton allegedly got out of the car and had a gun in his hand, and was shot by Deputy Donald Carpenter, police said.

He was taken to a hospital for treatment, then transferred to Marin County Jail on Dec. 17.

San Rafael police, Novato police, the Central Marin Police Authority and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office have said they were investigating whether Wootton is the so-called “Cotton Ball Bandit,” who got his nickname for wearing a knit hat with ear flaps and a ball on top during some of his robberies.

The banks Wootton is charged with robbing are in Greenbrae, Corte Madera, Tiburon, San Rafael, San Anselmo and Novato.

Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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