An armed robbery at a Palm Springs department store turned into a hostage situation Thursday morning, according to multiple reports.
Police say several people in the store managed to run out when three armed men entered La Vieja, a department store located on Lake Worth Road and Kirk Road.
Six customers ran toward the back of the store and were holed up inside a security room as the armed men were in the store. One of the hostages was pistol-whipped. Police say a SWAT team was able to enter the store and rescue the six.
Police, meanwhile, are conducting a massive manhunt for the three men.
According to tweets from Palm Beach Post reporter Matt Morgan, the three men escaped the store even as it was surrounded by police. A police chopper is searching the area for the suspects.
Lake Worth Road closed by police at Gulfstream for armed robbery of a small store pic.twitter.com/YHpn2u4D7F— Matt Morgan (@MetroMattMorgan) January 15, 2015
A seat vehicle just pulled in with men dressed in camo pic.twitter.com/m4dqGHmy2f— Matt Morgan (@MetroMattMorgan) January 15, 2015
Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says the situation started as an armed robbery before escalating into a hostage situation. Police were able to surround the store from a couple of blocks away, some with their guns drawn. They watched a video feed of events unfolding inside La Vieja and confirm that the three armed men escaped through the store's back door.
Bradshaw also confirmed that one of the hostages was pistol-whipped by one of the suspects. The hostages included customers and employees of La Vieja.
For now, police have set up a perimeter around the area as they search for the gunmen.
Roads in the area were closed earlier this morning but have reopened. The scene, however, remains active with heavy police presence.
We'll update this story as more information comes in.