Bank of America Employee Forced to Wear Bomb on His Back, Rob His Own Bank

FBI hunting three suspects who kidnapped bank teller and strapped bomb to him.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. Sept. 24, 2010— -- Authorities are hunting for three men who strapped a bomb onto a Bank of America employee and forced him to withdraw a large amount of cash from the branch where he worked as a teller.

The employee was led away from the bank by authorities after the explosives that had been strapped to his back were de-activated and removed.

Coral Gables Police Chief Richard Naue said today that the man was told, "We have a remote triggering device. We want you to get as much money as you can."

Though authorities did not identify the victim at a press conference today, saying only that he was an "Hispanic male," ABC's Miami affiliate WPLG reported that police sources identified him as 26-year-old Diego Uscamayta.

The victim was kidnapped by two men who, along with a third suspect, broke into his South Miami home around midnight, Naue said. The victim was home with his father at the time of the intrusion, police said. Shortly before 8 a.m., two of the men, wearing masks, left for the bank with the teller. The third man remained with the teller's father, police said.

The father, Naue said, was unharmed, but shaken by the ordeal.

The explosive device remained at the Bank of America after the standoff was over, and will be impounded and examined by the FBI, which has taken over the case, the chief said.

"There were bomb making materials in the device," Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dena Choucair said today and that the device was attached to the victim's clothing on his back. It was unclear whether there was actually a remote trigger for the device or whether it was a viable bomb.

Area buildings were evacuated and roads were shut down during the morning rush hour as a precaution.

Naue said that two of the suspects waited in the bank parking lot in a red Mustang -- a vehicle WPLG reported belonged to Uscamayta -- while he went inside to get the money ahead of the bank's 9 a.m. opening.

Naue said the employee told the assistant banch manager that he had been the victim of a kidnapping and that if they didn't get the money to the robbers outside, they would blow up the bomb on his back.

Once the employee gave the money to the robbers, they ordered the employee back into the bank and sped off. A call was put into 911 at 8:06 a.m.

FBI Calls Event 'Unusual,' Hunts for Three Suspects

As police and the FBI surrounded the building, authorities were in "constant contact" with the victim, asking him questions about the suspects and their actions.

"We were able to secure the bank, secure the safety of the individual and we were able to deactivate the device," the chief said.

The employee was led away in handcuffs as a "precautionary measure," Naue said. "We consider everybody a suspect" in cases like this.

The employee remains in custody and is being interviewed by the FBI.

Choucair said she could not confirm whether the employee was targeted because of his job.

"It is an unusual event to have explosives strapped to a victim and sent in," Choucair said.

The University of Miami's Coral Gables campus sits just across the street from the Bank of America. A university spokeswoman told that the school was operating normally, but had sent out an emergency alert to students, faculty and staff warning them of the hostage situation and to stay away from the scene.

The bank robbery was reminiscent of the 2003 "pizza bomber" robbery of a bank in Erie, Pa. Pizza deliveryman Brian Wells entered the bank with a time bomb rigged to his neck and told tellers he was being forced to rob the bank. After being stopped by police with more than $8,000 he robbed from the bank, the bomb exploded, killing Wells.

It was later determined that Wells had taken part in planning the robbery, but he had believed a fake bomb would be attached to him. When he learned it was a real bomb, he tried to flee, but the other men subdued him and strapped the device to him.