2 charged in Anchorage Wells Fargo robbery, FBI says the bank's location makes it a target

Published: Apr. 30, 2018 at 12:10 PM AKDT
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Two people have been arrested in connection to the armed robbery of an Anchorage bank branch and authorities believe the location of the bank could have made it a prime target.

In federal court documents, Derrick Anthony Moore and Bethany McKeel are indicted as two of three suspects in the April 3 robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank on 5740 Debarr Road.

The location has been the target of several armed robberies in recent months and according to the FBI investigators who followed the case, at least part of the reason for the location's targeting could be connected to its proximity to a nearby trail and subdivision. According to the court documents, robbers would flee through the wooded trail, out to a cul-de-sac on the other end, where their getaway vehicle was ready and waiting.

The crime Moore and McKeel are charged with occurred just before closing, at around 5 p.m. Two masked men entered the bank, one holding a small black and blue bag, and the other holding a semi-automatic pistol.

The two men demanded cash from the tellers and made off with a reported sum totaling $15,316. According to the FBI, the men ran from the parking lot through that trail, to a waiting car.

Moore was reportedly the bag holder, and McKeel drove the getaway car, a green SUV, which had been reported stolen the week prior. A third man, identified in documents but not yet criminally charged, allegedly held the weapon.

A conversation, secretly recorded after the crime by a confidential source, featured Moore and McKeel talking openly about the robbery.

"It's real easy [...] you just give the note to the teller," Moore said. "Once I put the bag in their face and told them to give me all of it, it was a wrap."

Moore continued on, saying the bank location, as well as the location of the teller near the door, made it an easy target.

According to the FBI, the location has been robbed several times in the past and suspects always use the trail behind the bank, "because it leads to a cul-de-sac where subjects will park their getaway vehicle to stay out of view of the cameras."

Once on the trail, it's less than a minute's walk before you reach the cul de sac of Kelly's Circle. Many who live in that neighborhood told Channel 2 off camera that they are scared and shocked that a feeder trail to their street could be used in such a way. Equally unsettling is the fact that they don't think there's much the city, bank, or any other entity can do to prevent further use of their cul de sac in future crimes.

The confidential recordings allowed investigators to move on Moore and McKeel, arresting them and obtaining a warrant to search their home.

There, authorities say in addition to money and two "realistic replica pistols," they found "counterfeit currency and electronic devices that appeared to be used to produce counterfeit currency in the bedroom shared by Moore and McKeel."

The counterfeit money was also found in the stolen getaway vehicle and in Moore's pockets.

Moore and McKeel were then charged with bank robbery, with other charges to potentially follow. It remains unclear whether the reported third member of the bank robbery team will also be charged in the crime.

Wells Fargo Communications Officer David Kennedy told Channel 2 that the bank is offering as much as $5,000 in reward money for any information that leads to an arrest or conviction involving the Russian Jack Wells Fargo bank robbery. Kennedy said the frequent robberies have made it harder for bank employees to do their jobs but that the bank is trying to provide any counseling services needed by its workers.

"Our top concern is always the safety and well being of our customers and team members. In these instances the robbers were brandishing firearms and we're just really thankful that no one was injured during these recent robberies at a Russian Jack Branch," said Kennedy.

Channel 2's Jack Carney contributed to this report.