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Gunman escapes with cash in bank heist

EAST MANATEE -- A masked bandit Friday entered an East Manatee bank, brandished a handgun and ordered everyone to the ground, sending some people under desks to take cover, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was injured as the gunman, wearing a black ski mask, took an undisclosed amount of cash and left BB&T Bank, 6250 State Road 70 E., heading west.

Deputies tied off the bank parking lot with crime scene tape and set up a perimeter around the bank at nearby intersections and a few blocks away. The area was searched with a sheriff’s K9 dog for about 30 minutes after the robbery took place at 10:30 a.m.

Braden River High School was placed on temporary lock down.

A car was stopped nearby, but the investigators determined it was not related to the robbery.

The robber was last seen wearing a black ski mask, white hooded shirt, khaki pants and white shoes.

As he fled through the parking lot, he dumped a pair of pink gloves in the back of the office complex, according to investigators.

According to the FBI, Florida had a total of 101 bank robberies for the first six months of the year.

Nationwide, $17.4 million was taken during at total of 2,041 bank robberies during the same period. Out of those cases, robbers used handguns in 28 percent, or 579, of the robberies.

Friday mornings are one of the most popular times to commit a bank robbery, according to FBI statistics.

Anyone with any information about the robbery can call Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jerome Diamond at 747-3011, ext. 2162, or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter can be reached at 708-7919.