Two men in masks and with guns barge in on a Brandon family. One is still being sought.
By JANEL STEPHENS
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2002
BRANDON -- After breaking into a home and tying up a woman and her 15-year-old son, an armed robber jumped into a nearby lake on Friday and tried to hide underwater from deputies.
His source of air? A hollow bamboo reed sticking inches out of the murky water.
"It was like something out of a bad Chuck Norris movie," said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder.
The ploy didn't work. A police dog soon found Ho Hoang Le, 25, of 1203 High Hammock Drive, Apt. 103, who was arrested and charged with armed battery and home invasion. A second man remained at large late Friday.
Authorities said the scene unfolded at 11:30 a.m., when two men wearing masks and carrying handguns entered a house on Cindy Lane. Inside were a man and woman, their 15-year-old son and their 1-year-old and 2-month-old grandsons.
The man dived out his bathroom window and ran to call sheriff's deputies.
As a deputy arrived, one of the robbers fled toward the lake. He vanished, but neighbors soon saw a small ripple in the lake. Deputies sent a police dog named Razor into the lake.
"We get a lot of bad guys in the water, but usually you see a nose sticking up," Reder said. "We're not used to that."
Inside the house, deputies found the woman and her 15-year-old son tied up. The woman, who also was struck on the head, was taken to Brandon Regional Medical Center. She was in stable condition Friday evening.
Deputies retrieved a pellet gun at the scene that looked like a .45-caliber weapon. A rented Chevrolet Tahoe driven by the suspects was impounded.
Deputies used helicopters to search for the second suspect, but he was not found. A purse and other property stolen from the house were recovered.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477, toll-free, or the Sheriff's Office at 247-8200.