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Cops: 2 bank robbery suspects on the lam

Bradenton Police are looking for two suspects in the robbery of a Bradenton bank this morning. Two other suspects are in custody, captured after a chase and manhunt that extended into the Palmetto area.

Three of the suspects, two men and a woman, entered the First Priority Bank branch at 4702 Cortez Road W. about 9:40 a.m. A fourth suspect was the apparent getaway driver.

Two of the suspects in the bank were wearing baseball caps and bandanas, said bank president Kevin Hale.

"They came in and asked everyone to drop to the floor," Hale said.

One of the suspects - who was not wearing a disguise - then jumped the teller counter and took an undisclosed amount of cash, he said.

The two suspects arrested were identified as Obrian V. Hawks, 22, and Maxchella P. Zidor, 17, both of Orlando. Zidor was charged with armed robbery, and Hawks was charged with armed robbery and attempted carjacking.

Bradenton Police had earlier reported that three suspects were in custody.

The two suspects still on the loose, a man and a woman, were not identified.

Palmetto High and Palmetto Elementary schools were placed on lockdowns about 10 a.m. as a chase and manhunt headed north of the Manatee River, according to school district officials. Also on lockdown were Lincoln Middle School, Manatee School for the Arts and Palmetto Christian School.

The lockdown was lifted at 1:21 p.m.

At Eighth Avenue West and 17th Street West in Palmetto, a Buick LeSabre ran off the road and crashed into a metal pole in the parking lot of Varnadore Auto used car lot. The occupants abandoned the car and took off on foot, according to officers on the scene.

That intersection is just down 17th Street from Palmetto High School.

At the intersection, the first suspect out of the Buick LaSabre ran up to a car driven by a woman southbound on Eighth Avenue, witness Bruce Vardadore told the Bradenton Herald.

Varnadore said the gunman was yelling at the woman driver to get out of the car. She didn't and drove on without a shot being fired, said Varnadore, who was watching the scene from the auto shop's office.

After the scene at the intersection, two more suspects hopped from the Buick LaSabre, and the three of them began running north.

Lewis said Hawks and Zidor were captured in a residential neighborhood of single-family homes east of Eighth Avenue West and 19th Street West.

At noon, there were no reports of gunfire. But a Bradenton Herald reporter who inspected the Buick LeSabre from behind yellow police tape said the back right door appeared to have four bullet holes.

At Varnadore Auto, the Buick LeSabre ran off Eighth Avenue West to the right and hit a metal pole just off the roadway, crunching the right front tire and wheelwell. Just seconds earlier, the LeSabre sideswiped a southbound Nissan Maxima. With that damage from the crash, the LeSabre was undriveable.

Bruce Varnadore said he called 911 when the crash occured and described the scene of the suspects getting out and one of them trying to steal the woman's car at gunpoint.

The search for the two other suspects continued into the noon hour west and northeast of Varnadore's. A helicopter was called in to try and spot the suspect if he was running or hiding in the open fields in north Palmetto.

The getaway chase through Bradenton, which started at about 15th Street West and Manatee Avenue West, headed eastbound on Manatee, arrived at downtown and took a dangerous turn, Lewis said.

Where Manatee Avenue West eastbound swngs right on the side of the Bradenton Financial Center, the Buick LeSabre went straight, heading into oncoming traffic on westbound Manatee Avenue West.

For several blocks, the racing car went into traffic and apparently without incident.

Then the car turned left onto Ninth Street West and onto the Green Bridge, Lewis said.

Into downtown Palmetto, the Buick LeSabre sideswiped a Nissan Maxima being driven by Mary Maceachern, 43, of Palmetto.

The getaway car came right at the Maxima in the right lanes of Eighth Avenue West. The sideswipe occured in the area of 14th or 15th streets west -- not far from where the LeSabre ran off the road.

"I was so scared, I didn't know what to do. It all happened so very fast, and my son's friend yelled to me, 'Watch out!' " Maceachern said.

The collision damaged the Maxima's left sideview mirror.

Thinking she needed information for an insurance report, Maceachern turned around and drove after the Buick LeSabre. She said the LeSabre was slowing down, and she thought it was to talk to her.

"I saw the car come to a complete stop. Then they just got out of the car and ran," she said.

She then thought the LeSabre might have been stolen.

She said she saw three people exit the LeSabre wearing white T-shirts and bluejeans.

At 12:30 p.m., Eighth Avenue West was blocked from 17th to 19th streets west during the search for a fourth suspect. A Manatee County Sheriff's Office helicopter and K-9 dogs were assisting with the search.

At 1:30 p.m., the search area had shifted slight north to the neighborhood south of U.S. 41 Business.

Lewis said the FBI has joined the investigation of the bank robbery.

For updates, check back with Bradenton.com.

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