Marlin James Mack Jr. was just 15 when he was first arrested by the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Police Department — for breaking into cars.
Two years later, he was arrested for bringing a gun to school. Soon after, at 17, he was sentenced to prison for five years for robbing a woman at gunpoint in front of her three small children.
Though Mack was once known as one of Tulsa’s most wanted robbers, Kansas City police were not aware of him before he became the lead suspect in the killing of a University of Missouri-Kansas City student earlier this month, and, on Sunday, was fatally shot after wounding three Kansas City police officers.
“At age 17 he was pretty much a liar and misfit extraordinaire,” Sgt. David Walker of the Tulsa Police Department told The Star on Tuesday. As a robbery detective, Walker had interviewed Mack in 2011.
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For his first arrest, in 2009, Mack was charged with robbery by force.
In 2011, in his most serious run-in with the law, a then 17-year-old Mack robbed a woman in front of her three small children before fleeing in a vehicle with his girlfriend.
The victim’s brother-in-law who was nearby alerted police and pursued Mack in a car — until Mack’s car stopped and Mack emerged firing a MAC-10 submachine gun at him.
Despite Mack’s young age, he already had a reputation for violence.
“He is probably one of the most dangerous persons that robbery (division) is trying to corral,” Walker told a local TV station at the time. “Here he is with a machine pistol. What good 17-year-old needs a .45-caliber machine pistol?”
Mack was sentenced to five years in prison for second-degree robbery, possession of a firearm as a juvenile and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
On March 19, 2015, Mack was released from prison, Walker said. Just seven months later, Mack returned to prison for carrying a firearm after a former conviction of a felony. He was released on Feb. 6, 2017.
Missouri and Kansas prison records show no criminal history for Mack.
And despite his extensive rap sheet in Oklahoma, Mack had never come to the attention of Kansas City police, Chief Rick Smith said at a briefing Monday.
Mack became a person of interest in the shooting death of 25-year-old UMKC graduate student Sharath Koppu on July 7 at J’s Fish and Chicken Market near 54th and Prospect. Police say tipsters identified Mack as the man seen on the restaurant’s surveillance video.
Then on Sunday, undercover detectives and tactical response officers found Mack holed up in the Sky Vu Motel in east Kansas City, police said. They traded gunfire, and two detectives were injured. Their suspect fled to a residence at 30th Street and Topping Avenue, roughly two miles away. An hour later, another firefight between Mack and police broke out. A third officer was shot, and Mack was killed.
The Tulsa Police Department is well familiar with the Mack family name. Mack’s father, Marlin James Mack, is serving a life sentence for shooting two people in the head in 2000. Prior to that, Walker said, his team had arrested him for “bringing in hundreds of pounds in marijuana.” Mack was alleged to be a co-conspirator for a Tulsa kingpin who was the subject of a major federal case.
As for his son, Marlin James Mack Jr., “He comes by it naturally,” Walker said.