DETROIT – A bank robber from Livonia handed the teller a note claiming he had a bomb and that he needed the money to pay for surgery because his wife had cancer, officials said.
Martez Newkirk, of Livonia, is accused of robbing a bank on Telegraph Road in Detroit earlier this year, according to a criminal complaint filed Dec. 14.
Bank robbery details
Police said Newkirk was dropped off at 11:34 a.m. July 29 in the 19100 block of Telegraph Road in Detroit. He arrived in a dark-colored Honda SUV with Uber and Lyft stickers on the front windshield, according to authorities.
Newkirk was wearing a gray long-sleeved button-up shirt, black pants, black shoes, and a blue surgical-style mask when he got out of the back seat, officials said. He had a backpack with the United States Marine Corps logo over his shoulder.
Court records show Newkirk entered the nearby Jane’s Beauty Supply at 11:34 a.m. He walked around the store and purchased a black ski mask at 11:42 a.m., the criminal complaint says.
Newkirk left Jane’s Beauty Supply at 11:44 a.m. and, at 11:52 a.m., he walked into the Fifth Third Bank at 19111 Telegraph Road in Detroit, police said.
He stood in the lobby for about two minutes before approaching the first teller station with a blue folder in his hand, according to authorities. Officials said Newkirk remained at the station for about a minute while grabbing inside the backpack.
Newkirk eventually handed a blue folder to the teller. Inside that folder was a note that said, “I have a bomb!!! Do not alert anyone. My wife is dying of cancer. Give me 10 bundles of 20s or less. I need to pay for surgery,” court records show.
The teller and another bank employee started handing Newkirk money, officials said.
He pulled a black cylindrical object out of the backpack at 11:56 a.m. and placed it on the counter, according to authorities. The teller told police the object had two wires protruding from it, a time clock, and a bar code.
Fifth Third Bank estimated that $7,083 was stolen.
Newkirk demanded to be let out the back door, but the employees told him that that door leads to a fenced-in parking area. He walked out the front doors and was momentarily trapped between the doors in front and behind him, the criminal complaint says.
He held up the cylindrical device to the camera in a “threatening manner,” so employees released the doors, allowing him to exit, officials said.
Police said Newkirk left the parking lot on the southwest side, crossed over Woodbine Street, and walked north along the west side of the sidewalk. He was last seen using a set of doors leading to an apartment complex courtyard.
Authorities worked with Uber to locate the account for the user who had been dropped off at 11:34 a.m. July 29 in the 19100 block of Telegraph Road. The email address registered to that account traced back to Newkirk, police said.
Newkirk’s Uber account was used to take multiple rides on the day of the robbery, according to officials. His cellphone was later determined to have been in the area of each of those rides.
One of the rides had a drop-off location in the 18200 block of Middlebelt Road in Livonia. Newkirk has a Michigan electronic benefit transfer card registered to his mother’s home in that block, the criminal complaint says.
Officials said Newkirk could be seen on surveillance video checking and picking at the tips of his fingers. He had likely put superglue or another substance on his fingertips to hide his fingerprints, authorities believe.
Domestic violence incident
A little more than an hour after the robbery, officials said Newkirk ordered an Uber to take him to an address in the 36000 block of Meadowbrook Street in Livonia.
While investigating the bank robbery, authorities searched that address and discovered it had been listed on a police report from an Aug. 17 felony domestic assault incident.
In that incident, Newkirk’s girlfriend accused him of assaulting her in a hotel room, police said. The location she listed as her home address on that report matched the one on Meadowbrook Street.
When officers were called to the hotel on Aug. 17, Newkirk was captured on body camera, and his appearance matched that of the Fifth Third Bank robber, according to authorities.
Previous bank robberies
Newkirk’s criminal record shows he robbed two banks in September 2010.
Officials said during one of the robberies, he used a note that stated he had a bomb. He opened a black backpack that contained a timer and an object that appeared to be a bomb, according to the report.
Newkirk didn’t receive any money from the teller during that robbery. He left the bank and got into a checkered cab, officials said.
He was ultimately charged with two counts of bank robbery and one count of explosives with intent to frighten.
Records show he pleaded guilty to the bank robbery counts and spent about one year in prison.
The notes used during those incidents matched the note from the July 29, 2022, robbery, both stylistically and grammatically, according to the Redford Police Department.
The criminal complaint concludes there’s probable cause that Newkirk is guilty of robbing the Fifth Third Bank on Telegraph Road in Detroit.