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      11-30-06  
   

Platte City motorcyle cop arrests bank robbers

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

An alert Platte City business owner and an off-duty Highway Patrol communications officer both played a role in aiding a Platte City motorcycle officer in the capture of the three alleged 'Band-Aid Robbers' on Friday afternoon.

Authorities had given the gang the nickname because bank security videos of the holdups show one of the men often wearing an adhesive bandage on the left side of his face. The videos also show one of the men talking on a cell phone while the bank robberies are in progress.

The suspects, believed to have been involved in as many as seven bank robberies throughout the region, were eventually stopped west of Platte City by Platte City motorcycle officer Chris Stackhouse and taken into custody by Stackhouse with assistance from two deputies--Jeremiah Filion and Billy Slentz--from the Platte County Sheriff's Department.

The arrests were made about 3:50 p.m. west of Tracy on the Hwy. 92 Spur. The suspects were not armed, according to Platte City police. They were taken into custody without incident. Several articles of clothing were found in the vehicle, including a black baseball cap.

Bank robbery charges have been filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office against Christopher C. Pinkston, 28, of Leavenworth, Ks.; Dan. W. Russell, 40, whose residence is in Georgia but who was visiting Pinkston and staying at a Leavenworth motel; and Nakia Gross, 31, of Leavenworth, who is said to be the girlfriend of Pinkston.

Roseann Ketchmark with the U.S Attorney's Office said thus far the suspects have only been charged with one of their seven alleged robberies. They are officially charged with the last robbery allegedly committed, that of Enterprise Bank and Trust on Northwest Prairie View Road, Kansas City. Other charges may develop, Ketchmark said, but in the complaint the only charge listed is the "most recent" of the robberies.

Court papers indicate the robbers made off with $1,226 from the bank on Prairie View.
An off-duty Missouri State Highway Patrol communications officer also assisted by following the suspects' vehicle northbound on I-29 after the robbery on Prairie View had occurred and by relaying location information to Platte County dispatch.

In an interview with The Landmark, the Platte City business owner said he was conducting business inside the National Bank of Kansas City Friday afternoon when a customer entered the bank and asked bank officials questions about opening an account for his college-age son. The business owner, who asked not to be identified for this article, became suspicious when he saw the customer leave the bank and walk over to the nearby Best Western parking lot.

"I had a bad feeling about him. I was just suspicious," the business owner said.

He said he saw the suspicious man get into a van, which had a female driver and another passenger up front. The suspect who had been in the bank "hunkered down" in the back seat.

The concerned citizen followed the van, which he said drove south toward the Timber Park subdivision before turning around and heading back toward the heart of Platte City. The citizen phoned the National Bank of Kansas City to let them know he thought the bank had just been "cased." An off-duty sheriff's deputy was working security at the bank, and the security officer phoned dispatch with the information.

"I drove by every bank to be sure they (the suspects) weren't at any of the banks in town," the business owner said.

Though police were put on alert by the information obtained from the business owner, it is believed the suspects left Platte City undetected by authorities after being spotted and trailed for a short time by the business owner. It is believed they left Platte City, robbed the bank on Prairie View, then headed back north on I-29 where they were spotted and followed by the off-duty Highway Patrol employee. The suspects were presumably headed home to Leavenworth when they were passing through Platte City and eventually arrested by Stackhouse.

National Bank of Kansas City in Platte City had already been robbed, allegedly by these same suspects, back on Oct. 27. Did it look like they were ready to be hit again last Friday? Very likely, according to the alert business owner.

"I think the guy saw me in there and that deputy back there and had second thoughts.”

Earlier on Friday, two banks had allegedly been hit by these same suspects. The action began about 1:40 p.m.. when a person passed a note demanding money to a teller at the Bank of Atchison in Atchison, Ks. About two hours later, a person used the same method to get money from a bank at 7612 N.W. Prairie View Road in Platte County. Witnesses from each of the robberies noted the same license plate number on the getaway vehicle.