Dead man found on beach in Encinitas identified as convicted bank robber

The bearded bandit in 2014
An FBI photo of the Bearded Bandit in a Wells Fargo branch on Saturn Boulevard in 2014.
( / Courtesy of the FBI)

A man found dead on an Encinitas beach has been identified as Christopher Andrew Gibson, 32, who had been convicted of robbing banks in San Diego County in his 20s.

Gibson’s body was found early Tuesday near Stonesteps beach, the San Diego County medical examiner’s office said. Emergency crews responded and confirmed the death.

It was not known where Gibson had been living. The medical examiner’s office is working to determine his manner of death, a spokesman said.


In 2015, Gibson pleaded guilty in federal court to robbing three banks in San Diego County by presenting demand notes to tellers. Authorities dubbed him the “bearded bandit” because of the shaggy facial hair he had while committing the first two robberies.

According to federal officials, Gibson made off with more than $7,600 in the three robberies, one in San Diego and two in Vista.

FBI officials said Gibson committed the first of the three robberies — on Oct. 7, 2014 — within hours of being released from the George Bailey Detention Facility, where he was being held on unrelated charges. He also pleaded guilty to robbing a bank on Oct. 14 and Nov. 6.

He was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison in 2015 for the bank robberies, federal court records show. In December 2019 he was charged with escape for not reporting back to a halfway house, and in January 2020 he was sentenced on that charge to 10 months in prison.

Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.