Crime & Courts

Snow tracks lead to robbery suspects

Two men sitting in the Sedgwick County Jail aren't likely to receive a membership invitation from Mensa any time soon.

They tried to rob a bank Tuesday afternoon, authorities say.

But the bank they chose to rob — the Bank of America branch at 593 E. Pawnee — has bullet-proof glass separating the tellers from the lobby, and it stretches from the floor to the ceiling.

"That particular branch used to get robbed a lot back in the '90s," FBI agent Chuck Pritchett said.

The men, one of whom was armed, ordered everyone in the bank to the floor when they entered shortly after 2 p.m.

"Because of the bullet-proof glass, they were not able to get anything," Pritchett said.

One of the customers they ordered to the floor happened to be an off-duty police officer.

"He was able to provide us with a lot of important information, including a detailed description of the suspects," Wichita police Capt. Troy Livingston said.

Foiled by the bullet-proof glass, the would-be robbers left the bank — which is just a couple of blocks from a police substation.

Unless they're out on calls, Livingston said, beat officers try to stay close to their substations to complete paperwork. As a result, numerous officers were available to respond to the report of a bank robbery just down the street.

"My officers, they were like bird dogs," Livingston said. "It's cold, it's windy ... they were tenacious."

After the suspects left the bank, they ran into the surrounding neighborhood shortly after a lull arrived in the snowstorm that had been pounding Wichita for hours.

With the help of a detailed description provided by the off-duty officer — and the trail of footprints the suspects left in the snow — police tracked down and arrested the two men on the grounds of The Shores apartment complex, 2701 S. Emporia, within 15 minutes of the attempted robbery.

The two men, ages 19 and 22, are now awaiting charges in the bungled bank caper.