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Woman claims ‘kidnapper’ forced her to strap on bomb, rob Palmetto bank

PALMETTO — A 47-year-old woman who had a fake explosive device secured around her with chains and a back support brace told Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators she was kidnapped and forced to put on the device to rob a bank.

Detectives are in the process of checking out the woman’s story and are checking her background for possible motives, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said today.

The woman was questioned late Friday night and released.

“At this point we don’t have any charges to arrest her,” Steube said Saturday.

The woman, who made no personal demands, entered the Bank of America, 700 Eighth Ave. W., at about 5:40 p.m. Friday, with a page-long note in block lettering and the device strapped around her and telling 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. Palmetto Police Department officers initially received a call from a teller that a woman was inside the bank with a bomb.

The bank building was evacuated and police were able to get the woman to the north side entrance, where she stayed outside.

Investigators say it’s quite possible she received assistance from someone getting into the device because of the way she had the chains wrapped around her back and body with a support brace.

The device turned out to be PVC pipe with dirt inside, Steube said. A package left inside the bank contained the same materials, he said.