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Dog finds suspect in home invasion underwater in lake

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


Two men in masks and with guns barge in on a Brandon family. One is still being sought.

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.

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