Local News

Police investigating bank robbery, shooting threat in Miami Beach

Posted: 03/29/07 at 10:18 am EDT

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- SWAT team members went to a bank robbery scene Tuesday after a caller threatened to come out shooting if police didn't release a man in custody for the attempted heist.

The robbery happened at the Commercial Bank of Florida about 10:30 a.m. and police later arrested a suspect in the bank. Shortly after, the bank received the threatening telephone call, said Bobby Hernandez, a spokesman with the Miami Beach Police Department.

"It was a very unorthodox bank robbery," Hernandez said.

About the same time authorities got the telephone call, people ran out of an office building across the street saying there were two men with guns, Hernandez said. Authorities did not find any gunmen during extensive searches of surrounding buildings that shut down a main avenue and shuttered local businesses.

"We had another person involved that was playing a cat and mouse game with the FBI and Miami Beach Police department from a telephone," Hernandez said. "Now where that person is, we thought he might be in the area because he had such good information, however a lot of that can be downloaded on the computer."

Hernandez said the caller, who identified himself as the brother-in-law of the person in custody, could be anywhere in the world. The FBI was searching for that person, Hernandez said.

There were no hostages or guns involved in the robbery, Hernandez said.

Police have been communicating with the second person by telephone, Hernandez said.

The manager of the bank alerted a friend about the robbery via e-mail and the friend called authorities, Hernandez said.

Nearby schools were locked down, displacing about 2,000 students and staff as the events unfolded.

The FBI sent a SWAT team, hostage negotiators and agents with bomb-sniffing dogs to assist local police, said FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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