Around 6 on Tuesday morning, four people believed to be involved in the heist had been arrested, and the police had recovered some of the money the attackers had stolen, local reports said.
Residents on social media reported hearing loud gunfire, according to Globo. Video footage online showed people grabbing what appeared to be cash off the streets. On Twitter, others reported that the attackers had bazookas and bombs and were setting fire to buildings, in what they described as a scene resembling a horror film.
The Military Police of Santa Catarina — a state agency with numerous battalions — were called in and were seeking reinforcements to confront the group, according to local reports.
Cristian Dimitri Andrade, a Military Police commander in Criciúma, told reporters that the attackers were “several men with rifles, long weapons,” and described them as “an organized crime gang, which specializes in bank robbery.” He said two people, including a police officer, had been shot.
“We are receiving information from residents who send us photos and videos,” he told Engeplus, a local news outlet.
Efforts to contact the police were not immediately successful.
Criciúma, with a population of more than 133,000 as of 2010, is in the state of Santa Catarina and is considered the center of Brazil’s ceramic and floor tile industry.
Bank robberies in Brazil, which has among the worst crime and homicide rates in the world, are hardly uncommon. In recent years, gangs have attempted to dig their way to millions through tunnels, have detonated dynamite to rob bank branches and have blown up cash machines in attempts to extract money.
Yan Zhuang contributed reporting.