Three people were arrested by the FBI last week and charged with a series of bank robberies and pipe bombings in Washington State.

The three, believed to be tied to a right-wing Christian group, were arrested shortly after trying to enter a branch of U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Ore.

A Spokane, Wash., branch of U.S. Bancorp had been robbed twice, for a total of $108,666, and bombed once in recent months.

"We are feeling pretty hopeful that this could be the end of these incidents," said Cindy E. Duryee, spokeswoman for U.S. Bancorp's Washington operations. "The FBI is indicating that they're feeling pretty confident."

Jay Merrell, Charles Barbee, and Robert Berry, all from northern Idaho, were charged Wednesday with multiple federal criminal counts, including armed bank robbery, use of a pipe bomb in a violent crime, use of a grenade, and vehicle theft.

Some of the charges could bring life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

U.S. Bancorp, which has $33 billion of assets, had offered a $100,000 reward for information on the case. The Washington Bankers Association recently added $15,000.

The nature of the arrests suggests that the reward money may have been a factor, observers said.

The FBI was tipped off that the three were targeting a U.S. Bancorp branch for a robbery, according to reports. Agents called the branch at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday to warn it, instructing the approximately 20 employees there to lock the doors and hide in a back room, according to reports.

More than two dozen agents and law enforcement officials watched as three tried to enter the branch and then drove off. Several hours later near Yakima, Wash., at a mini-mart near where they'd stopped, the agents arrested them without firing a shot. Military gear and weapons were found in their vehicles, according to reports.

At the previous bombings, letters from the Phineas Priesthood were left behind. The white-supremacist organization is opposed to homosexuality, abortion, and interracial marriage, among other things.

No one would speculate why U.S. Bancorp had been targeted.

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