Lawton man arrested for bank robbery

  • Lawton man arrested for bank robbery at a local credit union.

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Lawton man who is well-known to southwest Oklahoma law enforcement officers was charged Friday in the Western District federal court in Oklahoma City with robbing a Lawton financial institution two weeks ago.

John Scott Brooks, 36, of 508 SW 70th Street, made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell and was ordered detained pending further proceedings in the case. If found guilty of bank robbery, Brooks faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and mandatory restitution.

According to an affidavit that an FBI agent submitted in support of a criminal complaint, the holdup of the Southwest Oklahoma Federal Credit Union (SWOFCU) occurred on March 23 at approximately 10:40 a.m.

It is alleged that Brooks was driving an SUV when he pulled into a drive-thru lane of SWOFCU, located at 6714 W. Gore Boulevard, and handed a demand note to a teller, along with what appeared to the teller to be an explosive device. Brooks, wearing dark sunglasses, then held up a tablet that was counting downtime, the affidavit alleges.

The teller placed $10,945, in denominations of $50 and $100 bills, plus three $20 “bait” bills, into the drawer “and sent it back to the robber,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. The bandit “took the money, demand note, and device out of the drawer and drove away,” the agent reported.

Later that day the FBI received a tip about the robbery suspect, and the next day surveillance photos from the robbery were published.

On March 25 the FBI received a tip from Lawton Police Detective Abraham Woelfel, who said that earlier that day he spoke to an employee of a convenience store located near the SWOFCU branch that was robbed, and “she confided to him” that she thought she knew who the holdup man was.

The surveillance photo she saw on the news “looked like John Brooks,” who was a frequent customer at the gas station where the woman works, the FBI agent related.

Subsequently, the FBI received three more tips from other individuals who knew Brooks and identified him from the surveillance photo of the robber. Even the suspect’s wife told investigators that “when she saw the photo of the bank robber "…she believed it to look like her husband…”

Detective Woelfel conducted surveillance at Brooks’ residence and photographed a vehicle parked there. Oklahoma Tax Commission records show that the vehicle is registered to Brooks’ wife, and records in the Comanche County Treasurer’s office show that 508 SW 70th Street is owned by John S. Brooks and his wife.

A search warrant was executed at the residence on April 2, during which “multiple items of evidence were found,” the FBI affidavit relates. Those included some clothing in the master bedroom; twenty-eight $50 bills “which were crisp in texture,” in the SUV; and six cellular telephones.

The FBI said Brooks told them that on the morning of the robbery he left his home with his two sons and drove his vehicle to a Lawton bank “to conduct some business before continuing on to his mother’s house” south of Lawton. However, he was “unable to recall the particular branch” of the bank he visited, investigators said.

One of the informants told the investigators that Brooks was struggling financially and was “desperate for money.” He owned a construction company, the informant said, “and owed a lot of people money for construction materials.” 

A civil suit was filed in Comanche County District Court in 2018 against Brooks and his construction company over a debt, the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) shows. Records indicate that case is still pending.

The FBI said the informant also claimed Brooks was diagnosed with bipolar disorder “and was not taking his medication consistently.”

OSCN records reflect that in the past 18 years John Scott Brooks has been arrested by the Lawton Police Department, the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department, Tillman County law enforcement officers, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol on multiple charges.

Brooks has one or more convictions for burglary, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving while his license was canceled, suspended or revoked, and resisting arrest, court records show.