08/09/2011

SWAT surrounds Fla. store after 3 shot, 1 later dies

Authorities initially thought a woman was being held hostage

By Harry R. Weber
Associated Press

MIAMI — A female clerk at a South Florida check-cashing store died after being shot Tuesday along with two other people during what was reported as a robbery.

A SWAT team eventually stormed the store in unincorporated Broward County near Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday morning.

The county sheriff's department says a female clerk who had been shot died a few hours later at a hospital. A male suspect was found wounded outside, and another wounded man was across the street. It's unclear if the second man was involved or just a bystander. Both of the men were in critical condition.

Officials initially thought the clerk was a hostage. Authorities said they waited until it was safe before going in, but didn't elaborate.

The exact sequence of events was still being sorted out. Investigators were tight-lipped on who shot whom, and they wouldn't say if anything was taken. The sheriff's department didn't say whether its officers fired any shots.

"Within the first few minutes, we made contact with the employee by phone," said sheriff's spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. The spokeswoman said the clerk told authorities she was OK and didn't need help, but investigators believe she was told to say that by a suspect.

Coleman-Wright said she's heard of no connection between the shootings and the fugitive siblings on the run following a crime spree in Florida and Georgia. Those suspects are accused of shooting at a police officer and robbing a bank. A nationwide manhunt for them continued Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

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