FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Masked thieves smashed jewelry cases with hammers, sending shoppers who mistook the noise for gunshots scurrying for safety at Fort Lauderdale's Galleria mall Sunday.
The hammer-wielding robbers smashed their way through the glass display cases at Mayors Jewelers about 3:30 p.m.
"It sounded like an explosion, actually," mall patron Margie Ramirez said.
Cellphone video provided by a Local 10 News viewer shows one of the robbers riffling through a display case at the jewelry store. Seconds later, the crooks are seen running through the mall as a Fort Lauderdale police officer chases them with his gun drawn.
"(The robbers) just came in demanding, yelling, telling everybody to get down and just started smashing all the glass," Fort Lauderdale police Detective Tracy Figone said.
Meanwhile, the busy mall erupted in chaos.
"People were jumping into each other, screaming, yelling, 'Let me get out. Let me get out,'" Ramirez said.
Figone said the men got into a waiting vehicle and took off.
"They then bailed out of that vehicle around the 1300 block of North Federal Highway (and) jumped into another vehicle," Figone said.
That vehicle was a gray sports utility vehicle, which police pursued south along Interstate 95. Police were able to catch two of the suspects in the area of Northwest 20th Avenue and 71st Street in northwest Miami-Dade County. They also found the car and some of the stolen jewelry.
Police are still searching for at least three others who got away.
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