HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A device strapped to a bank employee's chest during a robbery was not a bomb, police said Wednesday as they worked to determine whether the man was a participant in the crime or a victim.
"The bomb squad made the determination that it was in fact a hoax bomb," said Capt. Tony Rode, police spokesman.
On Tuesday evening, the man was in the drive-through lane of the bank where he works. The device was strapped to him with duct tape, and he seemed convinced that it was a real bomb, Rode said.
It was not clear how the robbery occurred. Authorities said the employee passed a "significant amount" of money to two men and a woman he claimed had abducted him at gunpoint from his Dania Beach home and brought him to the bank in downtown Hollywood.
The employee said the alleged kidnappers wore masks, the two men had guns and he could only provide a generic description to investigators, Rode said.
The bank employee was not injured. His name has not been revealed. He and his girlfriend were released early Wednesday after being questioned by investigators, but it was still unclear whether they had been kidnapping victims or participants in the robbery, Rode said.
"We have more questions than answers," he said. "One question is, are they somehow involved? We just don't know. We're treating them for now as victims, but that could change."
The Broward County sheriff's bomb squad used a robot to detonate the suspected bomb after removing it from the man.
"It would not have exploded by itself," Rode said Wednesday.
In 2003, a pizza delivery driver in Erie, Pa., found with a bomb attached to a collar around his neck told police he had been abducted and forced to rob a bank. State troopers arrested and handcuffed Brian Wells after the robbery, but the bomb detonated shortly afterward, killing Wells. Federal prosecutors in July said Wells was knowingly involved in the robbery plot, an allegation Wells' family denies.