Armed robbery puts school on lockdown

By Al Pefley email

They were in and out in a hurry, less than five minutes, and the owner of Bergman Jewelers on PGA Boulevard says he can't believe it. "It's like crazy. It's like totally nuts," said Ray Bergman.

A little before 10 Wednesday morning, two armed robbers wearing gloves and hoods, approached an employee who was standing outside smoking.

The jewelry store had not yet opened. "Someone just came up to him, put something in his back, forced him in the store, emptied out his briefcase or whatever and then made him go to the safe and they took a bunch of stuff out of the safe," Bergman said.

The owner says for whatever reason, they left a lot of high-end jewelry behind. "A lot of the big stuff is still here. So I don't know. We may be lucky from that standpoint. I've got some very big diamond rings that are still there, I've got some expensive watches that are still there. I mean you know, they've got two cases of real expensive stuff and they walked right by that. I just don't understand it. I mean, apparently they're not professionals. That's all I can figure," Bergman said.

A maitre d' at a restaurant next door says knowing the thugs are still on the loose makes him uneasy. "It's very scary because it means that those people are uh, they don't care about security. They don't care that it's during the day, they know what they want," said Leonardo Scarlatella, who works at Bice Bistro.

The fact that two armed robbers were loose, possibly desperate and willing to take hostages, was reason enough for the nearby Benjamin School to go into code-red lockdown about 11 this morning. "All students were in the classrooms, the doors locked, the blinds were shut. We certainly prepare them for this kind of an emergency. Really there was no panic," said Robert Goldberg, an official at The Benjamin School.

The school has two campuses. He lockdown involved the Lower/Middle School, which has an enrollment of about 900 students, grades pre-K through 8.

No intruders were found on campus, and Goldberg says the lockdown was in effect for roughly an hour.

Meanwhile, Bergman says there's no video of the armed robbery.

The store has security cameras, but, Bergman says, they were not working when the crime happened.