PALMETTO — A 47-year-old woman who strapped what appeared to be explosives around her back and walked into a downtown bank was taken into custody after three hours of negotiations Friday, according to the Palmetto Police Department.
Police said the woman was from the Palmetto area, but did not release the woman’s name late Friday night, pending possible charges and/or a motive.
The woman, who made no personal demands, entered the Bank of America, 700 Eighth Ave. W., with a page-long note in block lettering and the device strapped around her and told employees she had a bomb. She was clad in blue jean shorts and had a chain around her neck connected with a pad lock with a shirt over it.
Police initially received a call from a teller that a woman was inside the bank with a bomb at 5:30 p.m. The bank building was evacuated and police were able to get the woman to the north side entrance, where she stayed outside.
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The frantic scene included at least 15 law enforcement vehicles outside the bank as police marked off a wide perimeter using patrol cars and crime scene tape.
Two bomb squad members from the sheriff’s office were able to approach the woman in suits after a robot checked the device and SWAT members on site. The were able to take the woman into custody without resistance.
The way the device was strapped to her, it’s possible the woman received assistance from someone, authorities said.
As of late Friday night, police had yet to disclose whether or not it was an actual explosive device. They said they were X-raying the device to see what it contained.
The woman also left a package inside the bank that authorities had to inspect. They also had to check her vehicle, which was left in the parking lot.
Kay Lundy, who owns a beauty shop near the bank, was surprised to see so many police cars shortly after the woman was taken into custody.
“I can’t believe it. This can’t be happening here,” she said.
Bobbie Hackett had entered the bank less than an hour before the incident unfolded to cash checks, she said.
“The girls in the bank said it was slow for a Friday afternoon,” said Bobbie Hackett, of Palmetto. “Thank goodness nobody was hurt.”