Corruption American Style
November 19, 2009

While the mainstream media is busy obsessing over whether Newsweek disrespected Sarah Palin by putting a posed photograph of her in spandex running shorts (by Runner’s World) on their cover, the rest of America and the western world continues to slide into economic chaos and an emerging police state. Here in Florida, what would appear at first blush as a bizarre attempted robbery by two masked gunmen at a TJ Maxx store, and the apparent taking of hostages, is actually a blueprint of what can and will go wrong when local law enforcement, SWAT teams, and paramilitary stage a dramatic multi-county SWAT task force raid in a dramatic show of force and police power.

Two days later, the unfortunate fiasco is now making national news, including MSNBC, and reports like these are quoting Police as saying now that there was “conflicting reports” over whether the gunmen were still inside or had fled the scene before Police had arrived, according to Sherriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Eric Hill. It is unclear why, amid conflicting reports, SWAT teams responded and surrounded the store, treating the situation as a highly dangerous hostage situation that was still in progress. MSNBC is calling it a “false hostage situation”, and a team of paramilitary SWAT members are seen charging the front door in group stance on the video linked here at MSNBC. Later, a sole victim is seen being pulled from the store. Several witnesses also reporting a single gunshot being heard at this time. Police refuse to comment on that issue.

Police are refusing to release any videotape of the alleged gunmen taken by the store cameras. Police are refusing to release any information to help indentify the suspects (who are armed and at large) at all. This normally only occurs when Police have reason to believe someone familiar with the inside workings of the store might be involved and do not want to alert potential suspects.  Otherwise, the refusal to release any discriptive infomation to the public they allegedly serve is highly problematic on several fronts.

The Tampa Bay ABC affiliate had this to say during the hostage standoff, obviously parroted from the Sarasota County press release:

“VENICE, FL — Sarasota County Deputies say 6 people have been saved from a hostage situation at a TJ Maxx on U.S. 41. Deputies say two men with guns went into the store just before 9:00 Tuesday night. They reportedly took four employees and two customers hostage.

SWAT teams (note: from 3 counties) were called in and by 1:30 Wednesday morning, they had pulled all hostages out of the building safely. One woman had some minor injuries from being shoved to the ground.
Authorities have not yet found the gunmen but they are believed to still be in the building.”

After a standoff that lasted hours after the last hostage was found, federally funded SWAT teams who had completely sorrounded the 45,000 square foot retail store, dressed in full camafloge and combat fatigues (while others in black SWAT gear), and armed to the teeth, stormed the store only to discover there were no gunmen inside and no one has a clue where the two alleged kidnapper-robbers escaped to. A crowd in excess of 100 people had gathered in the parking lot to cheer on the SWAT team members and the hostages. When all was said and done, the Sarasota County Sherriffs Office and other law enforcement had egg on their faces and appeared to be the victims of either a bait and switch, disinformation, or the unintentional dupes of their own display of force, overpursuit and grandstanding.

At least six people who were held hostage by gunmen are (now) safe after managing to free themselves from a TJ Maxx store late Tuesday night.Witnesses told authorities that two men with masks stormed the store off U.S. 41 around 9 p.m. and tied up as many as six people inside the store.

What happened next is not clear, but the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office dispatched a SWAT unit to free the hostages. (Note: they were apparently joined by Manatee and Charlotte county SWAT and paramilitary units as well).  As a crowd of about 100 people, including some who had relatives inside the store, gathered in the parking lot. SWAT members pulled victims out of the store .

The crowd cheered as one SWAT member dragged a woman through the store’s entrance.

“The one woman you saw had to be assisted out. She was shoved to the ground by one of the suspects. She was not severely injured,” said Sarasota County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Wendy Rose. “From what I understand, they (the hostages) were hiding in separate locations throughout the building, just not knowing whether it was safe to come out,” Rose said.  Some of the hostages had their wrists tied together.

Once the store was cleared, around midnight, it became apparent the gunmen had disappeared. It’s believed they intended to rob the store. Police took in search dogs as well but no recent signs of any gunmen was apparent, according to news reports.

The local ABC affiliate was reporting two days after the robbery-hostage fiasco that took place in the town of Venice (which is just outside of Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico) that witnesses to the SWAT standoff gone bad were still in disbelief on how the two reported robbers got away:

“Stephanie Cook was outside of the store as the hostages trickled out of the store. “How could they not catch them? There’s only two ways in and out of TJ Maxx,” she asked.

That sentiment was echoed throughout Venice, but police were not answering any questions about how the men escaped from a building that was surrounded by law enforcement,” reported Rebecca Mendina from the the Tampa Bay Action News affiliate Here is a video from Youtube which briefly breaks down the situation.

Police searched Wednesday for two armed men who they say took hostages at a Florida T.J. Maxx store, sparking an extended standoff with authorities.

[efoods]Venice police Capt. Tom McNulty said Wednesday that authorities believe the gunmen had already left the store by the time emergency responders arrived on the scene Tuesday night. The victims had remained inside the store having been traumatized by either the gun or by threats given by the alleged gunmen, although Police refused to speculate on either.

About 15 people were inside when the suspects walked through the door, according to witnesses, and six remained trapped in the store as the incident unfolded.

McNulty said police treated the incident as a hostage situation. The six people left in the discount store, located in a southwest Florida shopping mall, were cleared from the scene shortly after midnight. There were no injuries in the three-hour standoff. SWAT teams from 3 different counties surrounded the TJ Maxx, heavily armed and dressed in paramilitary fatigues.

The investigation is ongoing, and Police are refusing to release a description of either alleged gunmen, which is unusual considering both are considered to be at large, armed and dangerous. They were masked and hooded, according to several witnesses. They were assumed to have been male, but witnesses could only say they appeared to be male and had disguished or muffled their voices.

Some of the hostages were freed after dozens of SWAT team members surrounded the store in Venice, Fla., as several helicopters hovered overhead.

The final hostage reportedly hid from the gunmen and was injured after being shoved to the ground by the attackers. SWAT crews were seen dragging her out of the store on a blanket. By this time, local newscrews were on the scene and a large crowd had assembled behind Police lines in the parking lot.

At one point a police car drove to within 10 feet of the entrance of the store behind a concrete pillar and several officers wearing body armor appeared to be talking to the gunmen.

Shortly before midnight, there were reports that a single gunshot was heard inside the store. However, there are witnesses who now dispute this account.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the gunmen tied up employees using Ziptape while making their demands. It was unclear what those were.

As of 2 a.m. ET, police and a K-9 unit had not located the assailants and were still searching for them.
The workers who had been held in the store gave police conflicting information about the incident. Witnesses said they saw three people running out of the store, and they appeared to be tied up.

According to the Venice Police Department, about 15 employees were at the store closing up around 9:30 p.m. when the two gunmen entered.

A manager for the store said that, at most, $12,000 cash could be on hand.

The entire unfortunate fiasco is now being reported by the national media, including MSNBC and Fox News.

Venice, a coastal community, is located 70 miles south of Tampa. From FoxNews.com.

A massive number of SWAT officers in combat faitigues (and many wearing backpacks and utility gear while fully armed), are seen entering the TJ Maxx in the local Fox affiliate from Tampa Bay linked here. Also in the video is an armored Sherriff’s vehicle with a large speaker and radar at it’s top which, according to several residents in the parking lot, emitted deafening noises and a loud voice which instructed the gunmen to come out. When several hostages came through the door, a booming voice yelled to the victims to put their hands over their head, apparently from this enormous loud speaker. Many victims could not put their heads over their hands because their hands were still tied and appeared frightened and confused when exiting the store:

“They were screaming and they was a nervous wreck and they were tied up,” witness Chuck Kaylor said. “And the police told them to raise their hands,(note: a witness from several blocks away heard the “hands up” command being blasted) and they couldn’t obviously.”

Welcome to 21st Century law enforcement in the new modern world order, where the bankers and speculators who have helped bankrupt this nation get bailouts, and the people get a botched, knee-jerk police response in full paramilitary regalia and victims being yelled at to get their hands over their heads despite the fact their hands are tied, by some faceless moron in an armored vehicle. Thank God none of these people were shot. And yet the day after it was business as usual at TJ Maxx, with many of the victims who were too afraid to let their names or pictures be used by the media, were forced by economic strain to return right back to work while never knowing if the gunmen will ever be caught. And the gunmen, they got away. I guess we should be thankful they did not get a bailout as well.

Meanwhile, Southwest Florida’s finest from several counties got a chance to show off their new federally funded paramilitary toys, run around with semiautomatic rifles and full combat fatigues, and storm a local retailer that they knew, or should have known, had no sign of the gunmen inside (only terrified victims). That’s because long before they stormed the building authorities were notified via a second 911 call that a black SUV was seen fleeing the scene with its headlights off suspiciously. That call was ignored, the apparent need for the massive show of force and authority was deemed more proper given all the known facts.


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