Buildings near campus locked down after robbery
Temple Terrace Police Department (TTPD) is looking for two men who robbed a bank, an incident that set three campus-affiliated buildings on lockdown Wednesday morning.
The men robbed Pilot Bank on East Fowler Avenue at 9:20 a.m. As police responded to the bank alarm, a witness reported that two black men had run out of the building, according to TTPD.
University Police (UP) assisted in the search for the robbery suspects in the general vicinity of the campus, said UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross.
Police called off the search, which yielded no results, around 11 a.m., said TTPD Public Information Officer Michael Dunn.
The suspects, one with a handgun, got away with an undisclosed amount of money, said John Puffer, the bank’s chief executive officer.
No shots were fired and no one was injured, Puffer said.
“(That’s) the most important thing,” he said.
Pizzo Elementary School, MOSI Partnership School and USF Patel Primary Charter School were put on modified lockdown until 11 a.m.
In a modified lockdown, students can move around the school but only with adult supervision.
Pizzo Elementary School, which is on Bull Run Drive near the Sun Dome, went on a “straight lockdown” at 9:45 a.m., said Lisa Lashley, the secretary for the school’s principal.
Pizzo school officials downgraded the security to a “modified lockdown” later that day, Lashley said. Students were not allowed in the playground area during the lockdown.
The situation “didn’t impact USF at all” – just campus-affiliated buildings, said Lara Wade, news director for University Communications.
Tampa Police Department (TPD) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the search for the suspects.
Bank employees told police the suspects fled on foot and jumped fences behind the bank.
Authorities set up a perimeter and used TPD’s K-9 unit and helicopters to search for the suspects. The TTPD release said the K-9 unit followed the suspects’ scent northwest of the bank along 51st Street, then lost track.
Puffer, who was not at the bank at the time of the robbery, arrived around 10 a.m. when investigators were at the scene. He said investigators left the bank around 11:15 a.m.
The TTPD release said one suspect was medium height, wearing a black baseball cap with white lettering, baggy jeans, a white long-sleeved T-shirt and white tennis shoes. The other was about 5 feet 6 inches tall with short dreadlocks, wearing a plain black T-shirt, shorts and black tennis shoes.
“There’s just no way to find out where they went,” Dunn said.
He said the suspects were caught on video, but the quality isn’t good.
“We are hoping to get some tips from people,” Dunn said.
Representatives from the MOSI Partnership School and the Patel Charter School were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Temple Terrace Police Department at (813) 989-7110.
Additional reporting by Mike Wilson and Kristian Walden