CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - A bank teller was kidnapped early Friday from his home by robbers who strapped a suspected bomb to his chest and used him to steal money from a Bank of America branch near the University of Miami, according to the FBI.
The suspected explosive device was safely removed and the teller was brought out of the bank shortly before noon. The device remained in the bank at midday and authorities were working to detonate it, said. Lt. Janette Frevola of the Coral Gables Police Department.
"The device has been taken off. It is contained within the bank," Frevola told reporters.
A major South Florida thoroughfare, U.S. 1, was closed for hours in both directions at the height of rush hour. Three local schools were on lockdown as a precaution and the University of Miami sent out a campus-wide alert warning students and staff to avoid the area, although classes continued as usual.
The incident began early Friday with a home invasion at an apartment complex in the suburb of Kendall, where the bank teller lived, said FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela. She said three suspects later took the teller to the Coral Gables bank, used him to steal an undetermined amount of cash and then made a getaway in a stolen red Ford Mustang.
Frevola said police were questioning the teller and would not reveal his identity. They were still investigating whether he was involved in the crime or just a victim.
Initial reports that there were hostages in the bank appeared to be unfounded, but the incident triggered a massive police response because of the possible explosive.
Bank of America said in a statement that "the safety of our associates is our highest priority and Bank of America is working closely with law enforcement to assist in the situation."