Bank heist locks down school

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two masked gunmen held up a Wachovia Bank in Lawrenceville on Wednesday morning, causing a brief lockdown at a nearby elementary school, police said.

Two black men stormed a Wachovia branch at 3065 U.S. Highway 29, near Bethesda Church Road, about 10:15 a.m., each brandishing a handgun, Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

One suspect went behind a teller's counter and snatched an undisclosed amount of cash, Spellman said. Both suspects then fled the area in what witnesses described as a red car.

Police, who responded to a hold-up alarm, said the handful of customers inside the bank were not harmed.

Eyewitnesses told police one man is 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, while the other is 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds. One man wore a white hooded sweatshirt with black pants, the other wore all black.

Spellman said the same bank branch was robbed Jan. 13 by two men fitting the description of Wednesday's alleged bandits. She couldn't disclose how much cash, if any, the robbers made off with in the earlier incident.

"It hasn't been confirmed at this time if there is any connection with the previous robbery," Spellman said.

Officials with the FBI are handling the investigation, which is typical in Georgia for bank heists involving firearms.

A nearby school, Bethesda Elementary, was briefly locked down during the robbery as a precaution, said Gwinnett Public Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana.

The 15-minute lockdown was lifted about 10:45 a.m., he said.