Crime & Courts

Officers spot robbery suspects at O’Reilly’s store, arrest one

Wichita police waited at this O’Reilly’s store at Lincoln and Oliver on Monday night for the robbery suspects after a rash of thefts at auto parts businesses over the past two weeks.
Wichita police waited at this O’Reilly’s store at Lincoln and Oliver on Monday night for the robbery suspects after a rash of thefts at auto parts businesses over the past two weeks. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita police say smart thinking on the part of two officers led to the capture of half of a duo suspected of carrying out a rash of auto parts store robberies around town.

Figuring it might be the next store to be hit, Officers Brek Train and Blake McElwain decided to sit and wait at the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in the 4800 block of East Lincoln on Monday evening. They had just heard that an O’Reilly’s not far to the west and south, in the 3100 block of East Pawnee, had been robbed at about 9:20 p.m.

Seconds after parking across the street from the East Lincoln location and setting up for the stakeout, Train and McElwain saw two masked men leaving the auto parts store.

So they ran after them.

Train and McElwain “were being proactive, and they were bound and determined that they were going to catch these robbers,” Wichita police Sgt. Nikki Woodrow said, recounting the tale Tuesday to reporters.

The officers managed to capture one man, a 22-year-old, and found evidence linking him to the robberies. Police records identify him as Brandon Vernon Wells.

The other man got away.

Woodrow said Tuesday that police also have connected Wells to five other robberies that have occurred in the past two weeks. They are:

▪ Jan. 27 at the Circle K in the 1200 block of South Rock

▪ Jan. 28 at the O’Reilly’s in the 4800 block of East Lincoln

▪ Jan. 30 at the O’Reilly’s at Broadway and 46th Street South

▪ Saturday at the O’Reilly’s in the 4100 block of West Central

▪ Sunday at the AutoZone in the 3300 block of North Rock

“We can’t thank them enough,” Woodrow said of Train and McElwain. “The whole community is thankful.”

Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay also congratulated the two officers on social media on Tuesday. “Great job by Officers Train and McElwain! Proactive work is a daily activity with the WPD!!” he said on Twitter.

Wells was arrested and booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of seven counts of aggravated robbery, Woodrow said. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond on Tuesday afternoon, according to online jail records.

Police are still looking for the other suspect.

Anyone who knows his location or identity is asked to call police investigators at 316-268-4407 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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