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Shootout east of KC ends man’s life of crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The killing of a robbery suspect by police on a busy interstate east of Kansas City last month ended one man’s life of crime. Authorities have said 41-year-old Lonnie Moore had 18 previous criminal convictions and was the prime suspect in seven Kansas City-area bank holdups going back to last July.

The Kansas City Star reported that police in Minnesota and Washington state stopped him more than a dozen times over the last decade — often driving a stolen vehicle on a revoked or suspended license. Although he bolted a couple times, he generally gave up quietly, quickly pleaded guilty and returned to crime after serving a short sentence.

But more was at stake in his final traffic stop: The FBI says convictions on the string of bank robberies, the last one committed two weeks before the shootout, could have sent him to prison for 20 years or more.

Moore had a propensity for getting caught. He was just 18 in September 1987 when he caught his first felony in his hometown of Chillicothe, Mo., for breaking into a soda machine owned by the local Dr. Pepper bottling company.

Butch Shaffer, whose family owned the company, said recently that the one thing that sticks out for him about the 24-year-old crime was that authorities were able to charge someone. Stealing $15 in quarters, dimes and nickels from the coin box wouldn’t have been enough for a serious criminal charge. Court records show that Moore also took the machine’s electronic change maker, the value of which turned the case into a felony.

“That was the thing that made it a more serious crime,” Shaffer said.

From Missouri, Moore headed to Washington, stopping in the Seattle area and racking up 13 criminal convictions between July 2001 and August 2003. He had a propensity to offer lame explanations when he was caught in stolen vehicle.

When a Washington State Patrol officer working near Tacoma pulled over Moore in the spring of 2002 driving a stolen 2002 Chevrolet pickup, Moore explained that he was buying the truck from a friend and still had a few payments to make.

Five month later, he led officers in Pacific, Wash., on two high-speed chases, a week apart. In the second chase, exceeded 80 mph before Moore hit stop spikes, bailed out and was arrested after a foot chase. Moore acknowledged to police that he’d been driving “crazy” and admitted that the Cougar he’d been driving the week before was stolen — but not by him. He didn’t elaborate.

He got his longest sentence — 14 months — after Auburn, Wash., officers stopped him in a stolen Chrysler LeBaron in July 2003. In his pockets were 15 automobile keys that had been shaved to fit in different car ignitions.

After a stint in Spokane where his wife filed for divorce, Moore left for McGregor, Minn., a rural town of about 375 located 60 miles west of Duluth. He became a regular police-blotter figure in the county’s weekly paper, the Aitkin Independent Age: two days in jail for disorderly conduct, $580 fine and alcohol counseling for driving while intoxicated and 90 days for child endangerment.

Back in Missouri, he moved in with distant relatives and worked odd jobs through a temp agency, said FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton.

The FBI is still investigating the bank robberies it suspects Moore of committing. The agency contends Moore wore no disguise and showed no weapon when he robbed seven banks in Kansas City, Liberty, Gladstone, Country Club, St. Joseph and Independence.

Investigators could find no evidence of any large or unusual purchases made with the robbery proceeds.

“We did not recover any of the money, but it was not a significant amount,” Patton said.

The robberies netted him less than $20,000.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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