Police are hunting two gunmen who strapped a "bomb" to a bank manager's stomach as part of a raid.
Authorities in Los Angeles say the pair kidnapped the woman and held her overnight before attaching a device to her body.
The victim - manager at a Bank of America branch in the city - told investigators she was snatched from her Huntingdon Park home on Tuesday evening.
The robbery was carried out the following morning when she was taken to her bank wearing the device.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt Mike Parker told local television that the raiders told the woman that she was wearing explosives.
The manager made employees take money from the bank and leave it outside where the robbers could collect it.
Several hundred people were evacuated from the surrounding area.
Robert Lopez told the LA Times he was at an unemployment office for an appointment near the bank when it was announced that the building was being evacuated and about 100 people had to leave.
"There is a bomb. There is a bomb, we’ve got to get out," he said they were told as they were moved to a nearby car park.
Police bomb specialists were able to remove the device from the woman and later detonate it in the street. Witnesses suggested that it may have been a pipe bomb.
Footage shot from a helicopter shows a bomb disposal expert donning a suit similar to those worn by US troops portrayed in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning film the Hurt Locker.
He helped prepare the area around the device before a robot made it safe.
Police are looking for two men with ski masks and handguns who escaped in a two-door car, possibly a Kia.