PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Two armored car guards were shot and killed by a robber as they removed deposits from a bank ATM in a brazen daylight heist Thursday, setting off a sweeping search for the killer that shut down a nearby mall and several schools.

After hours of searching, authorities had few leads and only a sketchy description of the gunman, who police said approached the guards and fired without saying a word.

“He just came out initially and just assassinated them, that fast,” Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said.

The robber approached the car from behind shortly after 8 a.m., shot one guard in the chest, then went around the vehicle and shot the second guard as he tried to unholster his gun, police said.

Johnson said neither the victims nor a third guard who was injured fired a shot.

“There was no physical contact at all. There was just firing, it was an assassination,” Johnson said.

The gunman fired at the windshield of the Loomis armored car before fleeing in a black Acura TL sedan, police said.

Johnson said surveillance tape from the Wachovia bank’s security camera and another northeast Philadelphia business showed the robber getting out of his car and putting on gloves before killing William Widmaier, 65, and Joseph Allullo, 50.

Widmaier was shot once in the chest, and Allullo was shot three times in the chest and abdomen, police said.

Johnson said he thought the third guard had been grazed by a bullet.

The injured guard was treated for lacerations and released from a hospital, a spokeswoman said. Authorities said he was 69 but did not release his name.

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