North Miami - NMB

Bullets fly in North Miami Beach after bank robbery; 1 suspect dead

A police officer inspects a car covered with a yellow tarp where the body of a suspected bank robber lies after an exchange of gunfire with police on Monday across the street from Biscayne Gardens Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014.
A police officer inspects a car covered with a yellow tarp where the body of a suspected bank robber lies after an exchange of gunfire with police on Monday across the street from Biscayne Gardens Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. EL NUEVO HERALD

A bank robbery in North Miami Beach turned deadly Monday after a brief police chase led to the lockdown of two schools and an exchange of gunfire killed a suspect.

No children or police officers were injured, and the FBI, which took control of the investigation, declined to name the dead man. Agents said they had a woman who acted as the getaway driver in custody. They didn't release her name.

"It's way too early, but we're not looking for anyone else," said George L. Piro, special agent in charge of the Miami field office of the FBI.

Law enforcement officials said a man — probably in his 60s — walked into the Wells Fargo Bank at 800 North Miami Beach Blvd. just before 11 a.m., pointed a handgun at a teller, and left with several thousand dollars.

The FBI said a security guard at the bank didn't draw a weapon, and though no customers were tied up or corralled, they're looking at the incident as a kidnapping.

When the gunman jumped into a blue Nissan Murano SUV with a woman waiting in the driver's seat, customers and witnesses at the bank took note and called police.

Soon, members of North Miami Beach's Street Crimes Unit were in pursuit, Piro said.

Though law enforcement officials didn't explain the chase route, they said North Miami Beach cops were able to surround the SUV on the wrong way of a one-way I-95 exit ramp at Northwest 151st Street and Sixth Avenue.

The SUV came to a rest just off the ramp between Interstate 95 and Biscayne Gardens Elementary School. That's where the gunfire erupted.

North Miami Beach police Maj. Kathy Katerman said all the kids were in school during the incident were out of harm’s way.

Katerman said until her department reviews police-radio transmissions, investigators won't be able to determine what streets officers chased the suspects through. Piro said the crime scene is limited to just the I-95 off ramp location.

The SUV remained covered with yellow tarp into mid-afternoon Monday, and students were released after school from an exit out of view of the incident. Parents greeted some children, others were escorted home by local officers.

The school is about 18 blocks south of the bank. Police closed the 151st Street off ramp, and blocked the I-95 bridge there — which looked directly down on the Murano SUV — from public view.

The FBI wouldn't say how much money was stolen, but someone familiar with the investigation said they believe all the money has been recovered.

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