RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Shortly after the heist of millions of dollars in gold bars, confused drivers told 911 dispatchers that they saw uniformed drivers run into the North Carolina highway with their hands bound, motioning for help, according to recordings released Tuesday.
In the longest of the three emergency calls, a male driver describes the chaotic scene after the armed robbery Sunday night. Authorities have said that three armed robbers drove up while the truck was having mechanical problems and stole 275 pounds of gold bars worth $4.8 million.
"It looks like they've got some sort of guard uniform on," a caller said of the two robbery victims. "They've got their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and they're out in the road to try to flag people down to call the police."
The caller waits in his car for at least 12 minutes, describing the scene to the dispatcher and waiting for officers to arrive on the scene, according to the recording released by Wilson County authorities. The man tells the dispatcher he didn't feel safe leaving his car, but one of the guards can be heard trying to relate details though his window. It was difficult to hear what the guard was saying on the recording.
The caller said that one of the guards told him they were hauling gold, silver and diamonds when they were robbed at gunpoint by three people in a white minivan. The caller describes the guards' vehicle as an 18-wheeler and says he'll wait in his sedan with his hazard lights on for police.
The strange scene around dusk Sunday drew the attention of at least two other emergency callers.
A woman described the guards walking into the road with their hands tied but said she didn't feel safe stopping.
"It's dark, it's raining and they're walking in the middle of the road. I didn't know what to do," she said.
The guards — working for Transvalue Inc. of Miami — pulled to the side of the interstate about 6:30 p.m. Sunday after their vehicle began having mechanical problems in eastern North Carolina, according to the Wilson County Sheriff's Office.
The guards told police they were surprised by three armed men who ordered the guards to lie on the ground, tied their hands behind their backs and then marched them into nearby woods.
The sheriff's office said Tuesday afternoon that it was conducting interviews and had no further developments to report.
Transvalue said its employees were not injured during the heist, which happened hours after the truck left Miami bound for a town south of Boston in Massachusetts.
The company is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The company's website says it specializes in transporting cash, precious metals, gems and jewelry in armored trucks.