Witness walks in on bank robbers

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Two masked men armed with handguns
held up the Cayman National Bank at Countryside Shopping Centre mid-day
Thursday.

Unaware of what was going on, a
customer walked into the bank to use an ATM shortly after the robbers arrived.

The Caymanian Compass is not
identifying the customer in order to protect their identity.  

“I just saw a tall, thin kid standing
there in a mask holding a silver gun,” the bank customer said. “At first, I
thought the thing was a toy and somebody was playing a joke.”

It took just half a second to
realise the suspects weren’t joking.

“He pointed the weapon at me and shouted
at me to ‘get down, get down,’” the customer said. “By the time I got down on
the floor, I looked back up and the second guy was running out the door.”

The customer then saw a small
Japanese-model vehicle speed off from the Countryside parking lot and assumed
it was the suspects. But the customer never saw the men enter the car.

“I felt like it couldn’t have been
anybody but them; no one else would have driving that fast in a parking lot,” the
customer said.

Royal Cayman Islands Police said
one shot was fired into the air during the heist, which occurred around
12.30pm. No one was hurt but staff members were threatened by the suspects,
police said.

“We did have customers and staff
inside,” said bank President Orman Williams. “We don’t want any of our staff to
be heroes.”

Both men made off with an
undisclosed sum of cash and ran into the parking lot shortly afterward.

The customer who walked in on
robbery wasn’t aware a shot had been fired until one of the other customers inside
told him.

The 911 emergency centre was
contacted shortly after the robbery suspects fled the bank.

“The other customers were…kind of
asking the security guard ‘what are you going to do?’ And it was finally one of
(the customers) that called 911,” the customer said.

Armed RCIPS officers, police
tracking dogs, the Cayman Islands Helicopters aircraft, and police crime scene
investigators responded within minutes of the robbery report. No arrests had
been made immediately.   

The shot was apparently fired
inside the bank. None of the customers or workers in the surrounding Countryside
Centre businesses heard the gunfire.

One woman at the nearby Countryside
Office Suites said she was notified about the robbery by a friend who called
her from downtown George Town.

Mr. Williams said the bank did have
security guards on premises at the time of the heist, but he said those guards
were not armed.

“Obviously we have concerns about
security,” he said.

Bank robberies in the Cayman Islands are extremely rare. The last one to occur
happened 10 March, 2006 at the Cayman National Bank Branch in Centennial Towers,
West Bay. That was also a lunchtime robbery.

Prior to that, the last bank
robbery on Grand Cayman happened in the
1990’s.

Immediately after the robbery,
armed RCIPS officers were seen patrolling Hirst Road, adjacent to the Countryside
property. There was also a visible police presence along Shamrock Road through Savannah Thursday afternoon.

Nearby Savannah Primary School
took extra precautions immediately following the robbery.

Principal Margaret Rattray said
school doors and gates were locked for the protection of students. Any parents
who wanted to collect their kids from school early were allowed to do so.

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Police immediately respond to Thursday afternoon’s bank robbery at Cayman National in Countryside.
Brent Fuller