A robbery attempt led to a SWAT standoff at a Miami Beach restaurant with terrified customers barricading themselves inside Wednesday morning.
The incident reportedly began around midnight when four armed men attempted to rob a Shell gas station in the 300 block of 71st Street, Miami Beach Police said.
"I saw them putting the ski masks on," said Justin Ramos, who works at the Shell station. "Once they were about to walk in with the guns and everything, that's when the cops came."
Police said three men were taken into custody at the gas station, but a fourth man was able to flee and was chased on foot by officers, police said.
Police said there were unconfirmed reports of a shot being fired as officers chased the suspect, though no officers fired their weapons.
The man was able to get onto the roof of Manolo's Restaurant at 73rd Street and Collins Avenue and tried to hide in a ventilation duct, police said.
That's when SWAT officers swept through the restaurant, startling customers and workers who didn't know what was going on.
"They say 'everybody get inside' because somebody was on top of the roof," said worker Gonzalo Egusquiza. "'Everybody get down to the floor, get down to the floor,' as soon as he said that, police started stacking all of the tables one on top of the other and everybody went crazy."
On vacation from Texas, Magali Zabalegui was eating at the restaurant with her family.
"We stacked chairs up and the tables were like a shield, we were all just flat on the ground, we were all crying and just really emotional," said Zabalegui, who added that she hid under a fish tank at one point.
The standoff ended safely around 4 a.m., with all four men in custody, police said.
Ralph Carr Jr, 18, Gregory Oliver, 16, Theon G. Johnson, 18, and Andrew Jones, 16, were all charged with attempted armed robbery, police said. Carr was also charged with carrying a concealed firearm , and Jones was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and resisting without violence.
Det. Juan Sanchez, with Miami Beach Police, said three guns were recovered from the scene at the gas station, and several unspent bullets were found in a nearby parking lot.