INDIANAPOLIS – A pregnant teller and the twins she is carrying survived after a masked robber vaulted a counter, shot her at close range and grabbed cash from her drawer at a bank near a state police post Tuesday.
The bullet entered the abdomen of the woman who is five months pregnant but missed both fetuses, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said after returning to the robbery scene from the hospital where the woman had surgery.
"Angry is really what I am. This is just brazen," said Ballard, who took office in January after being elected partially on the strength of an anti-crime platform.
About two hours after the 9:30 a.m. robbery, police detained and questioned two teenagers who were trying to enter nearby Warren Central High School, said Police Chief Michael Spears. Both young men were to be released to their parents and police spokesman Sgt. Paul Thompson said they no longer considered suspects.
The 30-year-old teller, Katherin Shuffield, of Franklin, was in critical but stable condition at the hospital, Thompson said.
The dramatic robbery sent 150 officers and FBI agents rushing to the city's far east side on a search for the robber and possible accomplices.
The same branch was held up on Feb. 15, and the Rev. John Van Valin, senior pastor of the Aldersgate Free Methodist Church across the street, said thieves have broken out windows and stolen items from worshippers' cars during Sunday morning services.
"I think there is increasing crime ... and they're doing it under the noses of law enforcement," Van Valin said.
The robber, wearing a blue stocking cap, a black mask and a dark hoody, screamed at three tellers and one customer to get down on the floor before he leapt over the counter and shot Shuffield with a compact assault rifle, police said. He fired a second shot into an empty chair as he dashed out the door with an undisclosed amount of money and climbed into the passenger side of a car that sped away, closely followed by a sport utility vehicle, police said.
"This is senseless. Some poor lady, trying to make a living, pregnant, shot by a man without any provocation," Spears said.
Police dogs followed a scent in the direction of the high school, but police were not sure if it belonged to the suspects, Thompson said. School officials also were investigating a report that three youths with backpacks entered the school after the robbery, Thompson said.
Officers also searched the locked-down high school for a weapon, Spears said. Other schools in the area also were locked down as police searched for the shooter.
Lt. Jeff Duhamell said investigators didn't know why the robber shot Shuffield. It's unusual for bank robbers to shoot people because tellers are trained to hand over cash, he said.
"There's no indication that he knew her," Duhamell said.