Seattle Safe Streets Task Force Arrests Big Top Bandits Wanted for Series of Armed, Takeover-Style Bank Robberies
|FBI Seattle July 22, 2013|
The Seattle Safe Streets Task Force (SSSTF) today arrested two subjects believed to be responsible for a series of armed, takeover-style bank robberies throughout King County, Washington. SSSTF investigators nicknamed the subjects the “Big Top Bandits” because of their clothing, which included a variety of hats worn at every robbery.
In the latest bank robbery, in Newcastle, Washington, two subjects entered the bank. In previous bank robberies, one of two subjects is seen on surveillance video entering the bank. In each robbery, the subject(s) displayed handguns and pointed them at customers or employees. During the May 22, 2013 robbery in Seattle, one subject fired a gunshot inside the bank. During the June 8, 2013 robbery in Burien, one subject struck a bank teller in the face.
Around 6:45 a.m. this morning, the SSSTF arrested on probable cause Jeffery Lamont Pool, 47, of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Luther Ray Leonard, 23, of Renton, Washington, at their current residence in Renton, Washington, a few blocks north of the NE 3rd Street and Jefferson Avenue NE intersection. The two were arrested as SSSTF investigators executed a search warrant at the location. Investigators soon after executed a second search warrant at another residence in Newcastle, Washington, near the intersection of Newcastle Way and Coal Creek Parkway SE.
Pool was also wanted on several arrest warrants out of Texas for a series of armed robberies in that state and violation of his state parole in 2011.
The SSSTF continues to investigate the bank robberies attributed to the Big Top Bandits:
- January 16, 2013—Key Bank, Newcastle
- February 28, 2013—Key Bank, Rainier Avenue Branch, Seattle
- May 22, 2013—Washington Federal Bank, Rainier Avenue Branch, Seattle
- June 8, 2013—Sterling Savings Bank, Burien
- July 1, 2013—Bank of America, Newcastle
Information submitted by a Washington’s Most Wanted viewer to Crime Stoppers helped confirm a lead that the SSSTF was following, which resulted in today’s arrests.
This SSSTF investigation includes FBI special agents and detectives from the King County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Police Department, and Seattle Police Department. The SSSTF is a combined effort of more than a half-dozen agencies through deputized task force officers.