A 23-year-old man will spend almost 30 years in federal prison after being convicted of robbing two banks in the Kansas City suburbs by holding tellers at gunpoint while hiding his identity behind a comic book character mask.
Michael Shiferaw, of Kansas City, was sentenced Thursday to 337 months imprisonment by District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree in the U.S. District of Kansas. Shiferaw was found guilty of four felonies following a jury trial that concluded in August.
The bank robberies were committed in Leawood and Roeland Park over the space of five months. In all, roughly $132,000 was allegedly stolen by Shiferaw and his accomplice, Kenya Breakfield, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced three months ago to spend a little more than 6 years in prison
The first robbery occurred on Oct. 13, 2018 at the Wells Fargo in the 2000 block of West 103rd Street. Two entered wearing masks of the Marvel comic book villain “Venom.”
One shot was fired into the ceiling to announce the robbery, according to court records. A gun was pointed at a bank manager as he lay on the floor, while nearly $11,000 was gathered from the tellers. A second shot was fired into the ceiling, and Shiferaw allegedly yelled “Happy holidays!” before fleeing the scene.
The second robbery was on March 27, 2019 at the Commerce Bank in Roeland Park in the 4700 block of Johnson Drive. In that one, court records state that Breakfield stayed in the car as the getaway driver while Shiferaw went inside and fired a gunshot, yelling for “everyone to get the (expletive) down.”
Shiferaw, wearing a “Black Panther” mask, then went around the counter, where the tellers were hiding, and demanded to get inside the vault, court records state. He allegedly shoved a teller, pointed a gun at his head and fired another warning shot while in the vault.
Nearly $121,000 was taken during the second robbery. Shiferaw and Breakfield were arrested in possession of the money and the gun shortly afterward, according to court records.
During its investigation, the FBI connected both men to the first robbery by investigating the purchase of the “Venom” mask, finding that they were exclusively sold at a Spencer’s Gifts retailer at the Oak Park mall. Shiferaw was seen on a surveillance video buying them with cash, according to court records.