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Police arrest two Renton residents believed to be 'Big Top Bandits'

The FBI today arrested two Renton men believed to be the "Big Top Bandits," involved in a series of takeover-style robberies throughout King County, including Newcastle earlier this month.

Around 6:45 am this morning, the The Seattle Safe Streets Task Force (SSSTF) arrested on probable cause  Jeffery Lamont Pool, 47, of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Luther Ray Leonard, 23, of Renton at their current residence in Renton, a few blocks north of the NE 3rd Street and Jefferson Avenue Northeast 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, near the intersection of Newcastle Way and Coal Creek Parkway Southeast.

The 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, 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.

Along with the King County crimes, 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.

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