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Photos lead to charges in attempted bank robbery

Acting on a hunch, a Kansas City resident who looked outside and saw two men “acting suspicious” on a recent morning picked up a camera and began snapping pictures.

That hunch turned out to be a good one and those pictures helped lead police to two men now charged in federal court with attempted bank robbery.

On Monday, a federal magistrate filed written orders to keep Martron E. Bailey, 26, and Robert McClenton, 28, in custody pending trial.

Early on the morning of Nov. 6, an employee arriving to work was accosted by two men in the parking lot outside the UMB branch at 6400 Independence Ave.

One of the men grabbed the woman’s arm and demanded that she open the bank’s door. The woman said she couldn’t because an employee who was inside had to let her in.

“Well, tell her to let you in,” the assailant ordered.

The employee then informed the men of another complication to their plans.

“She sees you on the camera and she’s not going to let me in,” the employee told them.

The co-worker was indeed watching and, realizing what was happening, had already called 911.

The robbers, taken aback, tried to move out of the camera’s view and asked whether they could still be seen. The employee told them yes.

“So we need to leave?” one of them asked.

“Yes, you do,” she told them.

The robbers fled.

A few blocks away, the resident who earlier had noticed a strange car parked on the block heard sirens, looked out again and saw two men “walking briskly” toward the car.

The resident, who is not identified in court documents, took photos of both men, the car and its license plate.

Some of those pictures, which were turned over to police and the FBI, were released to the media, and that day an anonymous caller to the TIPS Hotline identified Bailey as one of the men pictured. The caller did not know the second man’s full name, but someone else did.

A Kansas City police officer recognized McClenton from the photo that was released to the public. The officer knew McClenton from “previous contacts,” according to the affidavit filed in federal court to support the charges.

Besides those tips, the license plate photographed by the witness was registered to Bailey, according to the affidavit.

An FBI agent who compared the witness’s photographs with the bank’s surveillance footage said they appeared to be the same men.