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Press Release

Armed Bank Robber Gets 17 Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN—U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Justin Mychal Smith, 28, of Muncie, Indiana, was sentenced to serve 17 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for participating in armed bank robbery and the brandishing of a pistol during the robbery.  U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff also imposed a period of supervised release of 5 years and ordered Smith to pay $5,090 in restitution.  In March 2020, Smith’s co-defendant, Trayshauon Raheim Atkinson, 22, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 11 years in prison. 

          On November 30, 2018, Smith and Atkinson entered the PNC Bank on Stadium Drive in Kalamazoo.  Atkinson handed the teller a handwritten note, which stated, “I HAVE A BOMB…DON’T MAKE NO MOVES…GIVE ME ALL THE MONEY…MOVE FAST.” At the same time, Smith produced a semiautomatic pistol and pointed it directly at the teller’s face.  Smith scaled the teller’s counter, with the pistol still pointed at her.  He moved over to another teller in front of Atkinson and shoved the gun into the face of that teller.  She recoiled back and Smith grabbed the cash. 

          Atkinson was identified and arrested shortly after the robbery.  Smith was a fugitive until July 2020 when he was arrested in California.  Smith was returned to Michigan and pleaded guilty to the charges on October 14, 2020.  He is also wanted in connection with a murder in Indiana.  Anyone with information regarding this crime should contact the FBI at (269) 349-9607.  The murder charge is merely an accusation, and Smith is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. 

          At sentencing, Judge Neff expressed concern regarding the serious and violent nature of the robbery and was deeply troubled by Smith’s long history of violence and guns.  While she was mindful of the need of deterrence of Smith and others who might consider robbing a bank, she was most aware of the need to protect the community from Smith.

          In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Birge stated, “Banks represent financial stability and economic growth for surrounding communities; those who rob them deserve serious punishment.  Bank employees are just trying to help customers.  No one should have to suffer the violence and danger of an armed robbery.  I am grateful for the outstanding work by the KDPS and FBI to identify and track down these bank robbers.  It is through efforts like theirs that my office and the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office can hold bank robbers accountable.” 

          “Bank robberies are serious violent crimes that can jeopardize public safety and traumatize victims,” said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Michigan is safer with Justin Smith and his codefendant behind bars. We thank our law enforcement partners in the Kalamazoo Department of Public Service for helping us hold this reckless criminal accountable.”

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Mekaru, in cooperation with the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office, and investigated by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and the FBI. 


Updated January 22, 2021

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime