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Manatee sheriff: Woman’s bomb/bank robbery claims ring true

MANATEE — There is evidence that a woman who claims she was told by kidnappers that a bomb had been strapped to her back and to rob a bank or it would be detonated may be true, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials said today.

The 47-year-old woman caused a bomb scare at about 5:40 p.m. Friday that shut down streets surrounding downtown Palmetto for hours, after she entered the Bank of America at 700 Eighth Ave. W., wrapped in chains with what turned out to be a fake explosive device strapped to her back.

Swarms of sheriff’s deputies and Palmetto police officers shut off much of downtown Palmetto as a bomb squad secured the area and found the device strapped to the woman to be fake.

But the investigation took a strange twist as the woman told detectives that she had been kidnapped, with her attackers throwing the chains on her and strapping the device to her back, before forcing her enter the bank to rob it, according to sheriff’s reports.

Sheriff’s spokesman Randy Warren declined to release her name saying the investigation is ongoing.

Warren said today that detectives have found parts of the woman’s story rings true, with the woman claiming that more than one person took part in her kidnapping at gunpoint. The woman also told detectives her kidnappers told her she had 20 minutes to get in and out of the bank with money or they would blow up the bomb.

“Some of what she has told us has been found to be credible,” Warren said.

The woman has not been arrested but remains in communication with detectives, Warren said when asked whether there were public safety concerns with her not being in custody. The woman claims she had never met her kidnappers before the incident.

“With her saying that this was forced on her, we don’t have any reason to arrest her at this point. But we are still looking into her story to find out what exactly happened here,” Warren said.

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