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    McDonald's manager held in robbery of a McDonald's

    A St. Petersburg man is arrested in Clearwater in connection with a Tampa stick-up. He's questioned about a string of similar robberies.

    By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 9, 2002

    LARGO -- A McDonald's manager was arrested Thursday on charges he robbed a Tampa McDonald's, and authorities are investigating whether he was involved in other fast-food stick-ups.

    Pinellas sheriff's deputies arrested Slater Smith, 25, of St. Petersburg, while he was working at the McDonald's at 1590 Missouri Ave N. He was picked up on a Hillsborough County warrant that charged him with four counts of armed kidnapping and single charges of armed robbery and armed burglary.

    Hillsborough sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder said Smith is suspected of robbing the McDonald's at 6906 56th St. N. on July 3. At about 5 a.m. that day, two masked men smashed the restaurant's door to get inside, then forced the manager to empty more than $300 from a safe, Reder said.

    One of the robbers was armed with a handgun, the other with a butcher knife, Reder said. The robbers forced the manager and employees into a back room before leaving.

    Reder said the employees got a glimpse of one robber's face after his mask slipped down during the hold-up. The employees later picked Smith's photograph out of a line-up.

    Reder said investigators were interviewing Smith late Thursday.

    "Obviously, we would take a hard look at him in other robberies," Reder said.

    Smith worked as a swing manager for McDonald's, working at various restaurants throughout the area, said Pinellas sheriff's Detective Cal Dennie.

    Tampa Bay counties were hit hard by fast-food restaurant robbers earlier this year. At least 20 restaurants from Sarasota to Pasco counties have been robbed.

    Clearwater and St. Petersburg police teamed to arrest two St. Petersburg men, Deangelo Church and Norris Brown, in connection with one Clearwater hold-up, though charges against Brown have since been dropped. A third suspect, Anthony Harrington, also of St. Petersburg, is wanted for questioning in connection with recent fast-food hold-ups.

    Detectives from law enforcement agencies across the area have huddled in recent months to compare notes on their respective robberies.

    "We think we have several groups" who were robbing restaurants, Reder said.

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