Crime

Hostage Crisis Unfolding at Coral Gables Bank of America Near UM Campus (Update)

A Miami PD SWAT team has surrounded a Bank of America near the

University of Miami and shut down nearby Coral Gables streets as

negotiators try to talk down an armed robber holding at least one hostage inside.

UM

sent students an alert about an hour ago warning them to stay away

from the bank at 1500 South Dixie Highway and to be cautious in the parts of campus nearby.

At least one armed robber entered the bank just after 8 a.m., according to a CBS4 report. Police still aren't sure how many people are being held inside.

"It's unknown how many suspects are in the bank," Coral Gables police Sgt. Janette Frevola told the station. "There are people inside the bank, and we are trying to control the situation."

A bomb squad from the Miami-Dade County PD is also on the scene as police try to talk the gunman out.

Here's the latest alert sent from UM to students:

There is a dangerous hazard near the University of Miami CORAL GABLES Campus.
Avoid the area of Bank of America, 1540 South Dixie Hwy.  Hostage Situation at Bank of America across from Gables Campus.  Expect traffic delays on South Dixie Hwy.  Further information will follow on the status of campus activities.
University Police will continue to monitor the situation.

As information becomes available it will be posted at www.miami.edu. and via e-mail.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Update: The hostage crisis is apparently even wilder than it seemed at first blush. CBS4 now reports that police have evacuated all the employees from the bank -- but that at least one robber is holed up inside with a bomb.

According to the station's sources, the robbery started last night when gunmen kidnapped a bank employee and then forced them to open the bank before hours -- possibly by strapping a bomb to the hostage.

But the kidnapped employee and others inside are apparently all safely outside the bank now.

Meanwhile, traffic across Miami has been snarled this morning by the crisis, as pretty much anyone trying to head north or south of downtown has been caught up in jams caused by the  street closures as negotiators work on the robbers.

Are you nearby and watching the negotiations? Shoot us an email here.

Update 2: The crisis has ended. Police led a suspect out of the bank moments ago, a bomb squad has secured the building, and ultimately no one got hurt. (Other than the thousands of Miamians with a horrible commute this morning ...)
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink