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Employee shot during robbery at Bardmoor

Officials say a masked gunman entered the pro shop, demanded money and shot the worker.

By MIKE BRASSFIELD and MAUREEN BYRNE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 17, 2003


SEMINOLE -- A masked gunman shot an assistant golf professional in an attempted robbery Wednesday of the pro shop at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club, a well-manicured country club amid middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.

The wounded employee, 31-year-old Lanier Waters, was shot once in the chest. He was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center, where he remained in serious condition Wednesday night.

The unidentified gunman escaped after the shooting, though it was unclear whether he got any money.

Pinellas County sheriff's detectives were questioning eyewitnesses to get a better description of him.

The shooting, which occurred just before 5 p.m., came as a shock to club employees, golfers and neighbors of Bardmoor, which is south of Bryan Dairy Road between Belcher and Starkey roads.

"You would never think of this happening here. It's a great place to live. I let my kids run around here," said Biff Durocher, who lives near the golf course's 18th hole. "It's freaky, off the wall. Who would rob a pro shop?"

Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office were trying to answer that question. But details about the robbery attempt were sketchy Wednesday evening.

Authorities say a masked gunman went into Bardmoor's clubhouse and confronted Waters, who was working behind the counter in the pro shop. The robber demanded money. It was not clear why he shot Waters.

Witnesses described the robber as a 6-foot-tall white man who weighed roughly 200 pounds. He wore a plaid shirt, blue jeans and a green-colored mask, said sheriff's Detective Tim Goodman.

Detectives hope to interview motorists who were driving past the clubhouse during the robbery attempt. They want to get a description of a possible getaway car.

"There may be a vehicle involved in this robbery," Goodman said. "The vehicle was parked outside the clubhouse, facing southbound, blocking traffic. Four to five vehicles were behind it, beeping their horns, requesting it to move."

Matt Dumas, 24, of Largo was working in the bag drop area at Bardmoor when he heard another employee on the radio frantically calling for the general manager. Dumas went inside the club and saw Waters lying on the floor, gasping for air as paramedics worked on him.

"I know him pretty well," Dumas said, his voice shaking. He said he had never worried about crime at the club. "This is a nice neighborhood," he said.

Bill Riley, 51, of St. Petersburg, a frequent golfer at the course, was on the 16th hole when he heard all the sirens. He and his friends assumed it was a nearby car wreck. It wasn't until they returned to the clubhouse that they learned of the shooting.

"It's pretty bizarre," said Riley, who added that Waters is well-liked by golfers and fellow employees. "He's just very outgoing with a super personality."

At one time, the golf course was private and was called Bardmoor North. Two nearby 18-hole courses, called Bardmoor East and Bardmoor South, were open to the public.

In 1990, Bardmoor North became a public course. Bardmoor East and Bardmoor South are now the Bayou Club Estates, an 18-hole golf course and gated community of luxury homes off Belcher Road.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Pinellas County sheriff's Detective Paul Martin at 582-6200.

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