A Florida bank robbery that began with a kidnapping has ended in the suspects fleeing the scene without being arrested, according to the local Florida CBS affiliate.
A hostage situation at a Coral Gables bank that began with the kidnapping of a bank employee from his Kendall home during a Thursday night home invasion ended before noon Friday, with the employee safe, the kidnapper robbers on the loose, and an undetermined amount of money stolen from the bank. Police and the FBI are now trying to sort the whole thing out, including determining if a device left behind at the bank is a bomb.
MSNBC reports that a device containing "bomb-making materials" has been removed and that the suspects escaped in a 1998 Ford Mustang. However, it says that earlier reports of hostages may be "unfounded," as the robbers may not have ever entered the bank, but rather used the kidnapped teller, forced to carry a bomb, as a means to extract money.
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Police are surrounding a Miami-area bank where they say a robber has taken hostages.
Coral Gables police say an unknown number of employees and customers were taken hostage Friday at a Bank of America which is near the University of Miami. Hostage negotiators are at the bank along with the FBI and the Miami-Dade County bomb squad.
The university sent an alert to students warning them to stay away from the area near the bank.
Some elementary schools in the area have been locked down as a precaution but the university remains open.
According to CBS, there may be a bomb involved:
Police in Coral Gables, Fla. say that only one person remains inside a Bank of America branch where a bizarre robbery attempt and hostage situation - possibly involving a bomb - unfolded Friday morning.
FBI and police sources say the robbery attempt started Thursday night, after an unidentified bank employee was apparently kidnapped from a South Miami-Dade apartment complex, and apparently used to gain access to the bank Friday morning before it opened for business.
The sources said earlier Friday that the kidnapped employee may have had a bomb strapped to his or her body during a robbery attempt by the captor, reports CBS Station WFOR Miami.
Now, police say all customers and employees have left the bank, but the possible bomb is still inside with the lone suspect. A negotiation team is in place to talk with the person remaining inside and a bomb squad is on the scene.
Police say at least one masked robber, possibly two, gained access to the bank just before 8 a.m. Friday.
Coral Gables police Sgt, Janette Frevola said only one person remained in the bank just before 11. a.m.
"I believe that as of right now, we have made contact with someone inside the bank," Frevola said.
The robbery is taking place on S. Dixie Highway in Coral Gables, directly across from the University of Miami campus. The university sent an alert to students warning them to stay away from the area near the bank.
Witness Clark Jones, who lives in the area, parked in a nearby Publix parking lot to watch what was going on. He says he saw police storm the building and then saw some bank employees leave the building.
"One of them came out, I believe a manager, and police took her away. The SWAT team showed up shortly thereafter and took up a perimeter."
Clark also says he believes he knows who the hostage is. He didn't want to identify that person but described that person as a very nice person.
The Bank of America occupies the first floor of the building, but other businesses reportedly have offices on the second and third floor. There was no information about the status of those business, or if people in those offices had been told to leave the building.