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Burglary suspects caught after fleeing into Dillard's store at Brandon Mall

12:19 PM, Mar 4, 2014   |    comments
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Brandon, FL -- The Dillard's department store in Brandon was evacuated Monday afternoon after officials say three burglary suspects tried to hide inside the store.

Authorities say the suspects were wanted for a burglary in Manatee County.

While being chased Monday afternoon, the suspects drove off the I-75 exit ramp at State Road 60 and ran into the nearby Dillard's.

Eyewitnesses tell 10 News as many as 50 deputies and troopers responded and surrounded the store.

"I thought I was getting pulled over, because there were two cops behind me with their lights on and everything. And I rolled around the corner and there were cops down both sides of the mall," recalled Ben Fisher of Port Charlotte.

"I was concerned, because I saw them vesting up, that's when I was just like OK this is serious, I see cops putting on vests and walking in," added Rachelle Riles of Brandon.

Officials evacuated the store as they searched for the suspects. Eventually all three were caught, including one hiding in the luggage section.

What's still unclear is if any of the suspects were armed, but what is clear is that authorities were leaving nothing to chance.

"The bigger the area the harder it is but this is what law enforcement does every day all across the country, they don't know when they go into a building or a house what they're facing and this is the same just a larger scale," said Col. Greg Brown with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

All three suspects will be booked into the Hillsborough County Jail before being transferred to Manatee County.

Julie Johnson Bull, the Director of Investor Relations with Dillard's, Inc. released the following statement Monday afternoon:

"I am confirming that local authorities pursued suspects into our Brandon, Florida location. We cooperated with authorities fully and cleared the store - with the safety of our customers and associates as our highest priority. It is my understanding the police have apprehended all suspects and the store is now open again. We are continuing to cooperate with authorities regarding this matter."

By 3 p.m. Monday the Dillard's store was back open.

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