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Police seek pair of gunmen

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Gunmen bound the hands of employees and a customer during the robbery of a local bank Thursday morning.

Both the type of robbery, in which gunmen take over the bank instead of just slipping a teller a note or quietly demanding money, and the fact that the men tied up the employees are rare, Greenwood Police Department Assistant Chief Matthew Fillenwarth said.

Taking over the bank showed the men had planned and prepared for the robbery, including bringing zip ties to bind the hands of employees and customers, Fillenwarth said.

Police were looking for two suspects and possibly a third who was outside the bank communicating with the robbers on a radio.

Two men went into First Merchants Bank at 18 Providence Drive, near Worthsville Road and U.S. 31 in Greenwood, about 9:20 a.m. They were wearing hooded jackets, black gloves and ski masks and pointed pistols at employees and customers and ordered them to the floor.

The gunmen used plastic ties to bind people’s hands behind their backs and left after taking cash from the teller stations, according to a Greenwood Police Department news release.

Police were first called by a customer who had been on the phone with a bank employee when the men came into the bank. The customer heard yelling, and the employee hung up.

The customer called police and told them what had happened, Fillenwarth said.

While police were on their way, an employee in the bank set off the silent alarm, Fillenwarth said.

The men were gone when police arrived. They believe the men were in the bank for less than two minutes, Fillenwarth said.

At the bank, medics treated a bank employee and a customer for swollen wrists, the news release said.

All Greenwood public schoolsas well as Greenwood Christian Academy were put on lockdown after the robbery. That meant classes went on as usual but no one was allowed to enter the buildings, Superintendent David Edds said.

Greenwood police told the school district and Greenwood Christian Academy that the lockdown wasn’t necessary, Fillenwarth said. Greenwood Christian Academy lifted its lockdown after about two hours, but Greenwood schools remained locked down until the end of the school day.

Edds said he wanted to be careful given that neither of the gunmen was arrested.

Witnesses at the bank told police that a third person may have been involved in the robbery as the robbers were seen using a radio to speak with someone outside the bank. The pair were last seen running west from the bank, the news release said.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Greenwood Police Department at 881-2518 or the anonymous tip line at 865-0300.

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