Apparently riled up by allegations that Russian hackers interfered with the U.S. presidential election, a man in Miami appears to have forced his Uber driver to broadcast him robbing a bank on Facebook before giving away the cash in South Beach.
Then the would-be Robin Hood, a bald man dressed in a suit and tie, made a bomb threat. The bizarre scene on Ocean Drive ended late Monday with Miami Beach police, Miami-Dade’s bomb squad and agents from the FBI and ATF descending on the party street. Both men were hauled off in U.S. Homeland Security SUVs.
Officials did not confirm much other than saying both men are being questioned by the FBI in connection with the robbery — and that the Facebook stream is part of the investigation.
“A component of this entire investigation as many are aware is social media,” said Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.
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The strange incident occurred just hours after bomb threats disrupted Jewish Community Centers in Miami Beach, Kendall and across the eastern U.S. on Monday.
Just before 5 p.m., a man who identifies himself as “Mikebilly So-Focused” began streaming the robbery. The bald man calmly walks up to an attendant at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Brickell and starts talking. They then approach the counter. After some uneasy conversation, the teller hands the man a pink envelope with stacks of cash. After he asks a stranger to take his picture and attempts to take one of the women hostage, he tells a second teller to empty her register. The he goes on a rant.
“I’m going to surrender once I give away this money to people who are poor, then I’ll surrender. I’ll answer to the judges. I’ll answer to the media. I just want to speak before Congress,” the man said. “I want people to listen to me and for them to stop lying to us. they’re lying to us. They’re telling us that Russia hacked the election and they’re trying to start a war. They’re going to kill us all.”
During the stream, as other Facebook users comment, Mike posts that he is a hostage. Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reported that the driver is an ex-Marine who drives for ride-sharing service Uber, according to friends.
In the car after the robbery, the driver broadcasts again twice while his passenger rants about the government and shows off the spoils. In the last video, the driver states that the bald man has a bomb.
Shortly after, the pair arrived in South Beach, where the man climbed onto the car’s roof and started handing out wads of cash to passersby. Some witnesses said they thought a film was being shot.
“It was kind of funny because at first he was very calm,” said Luc Ten Have, a Dutch tourist staying at the Waldorf Towers at Ninth Street and Ocean Drive, right across from where the car was parked on the sidewalk.
Juan Delgado, working at the Waldorf, said people were walking away with hundreds of dollars.
Then things took a turn. The bald man stuck to the pledge he’d made back at the bank.
“He apparently called the cops and said he’d robbed the bank,” Delgado said. “Then the cops arrested him and took him away.”
The man also claimed he had a bomb in his car. Police said they got the call at about 5:30 p.m. They detained the man and one other person and closed off Ocean Drive between Eighth and 10th streets. Around 9 p.m., federal U.S. Homeland Security SUVs took both men away.
Miami-Dade’s bomb squad arrived, along with the FBI and ATF. They secured the area with a bomb robot.
With many questions left to answer, police departments in Miami and Miami Beach are working with the FBI to investigate.